Thursday, March 6, 2014

Book Reviews: The Kitchen House & The Night Circus

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom


I started reading this book because of the high ratings it got on goodreads and because as a history major I really enjoy reading historical fiction. For the most part, the depictions of the relationships between the slaves and the main household were accurate. Although considered unequal and separate, the lives of slaves and white families on Southern plantations were always heavily intertwined and spun many complicated webs. This book does a great job of showing just how complicated things can get. In a fictitious way, of course.

I had a hard time getting into the book; I felt it had a slow start. I had to give it a couple reads before I really got into it. Once I did, however, I couldn't put it down because I wanted to find out how the story unfolded and what would happen to the main characters. The story telling switches between Lavinia, the Irish indentured servant who comes to the plantation at a very young age and ends up being raised by the slaves, and Belle, the daughter of the plantation owner who is half black but always considered a slave. The two main protagonists lead very different lives but end up facing many similar hardships and struggles, mostly because of their complicated placement in society.

I think I would have liked this book a lot more if the ending hadn't fallen so short. I was expecting a bit more character development, but felt that the ending was rushed and we didn't get the closure we needed. Maybe some people liked how the book ended, but I was left thinking "that's it?" I was left a bit disappointed.

The writing, however, was well done and the way the story is told keeps you on your toes. There are a few times where we have those "years later" moments, which I personally don't like- but to each their own. If you're into historical pieces, family dramas, or stories that follow characters through the years, then I'd definitely give this book a try.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


If I had to pick just one word to describe this book, I'd choose enchanting. From the very start, you are pulled into this world in which you're not quite sure what's going on, but as you continue reading this magnificent story unfolds. I read this book in such a short period of time because I couldn't put it down. I had to keep reading to see what would happen next.

I noticed a lot of people criticized the book because it had too many lengthy descriptions of scenery, but that's what made the book so enchanting. The descriptions were written in such a way that you can visualize the circus scenes in your mind and you become just as fascinated by it as the circus-goers in the book.

There's a lot of mystery to the story and the way some chapters are broken up keep you on the edge of your seat, wondering what happened to the characters from the last chapter. At times this annoyed me because I'm a rather impatient person, but I believe it's part of what kept the mystery and illusion so alive.

If you are a fan of magic or fantasy worlds, I would highly recommend this book. If you enjoy beautiful and well thought out descriptions, you will be a fan of this author's work. Even if you are looking for a new type of novel to read, put this book on your reading list, because it is certainly one of a kind.

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