I read an advanced copy of A Circle of Souls and so I got a copy that had some problems… I am sure that an editor helped fine tune the book before mass market availability. There were some minor formatting issues, a few errant typos, and some pretty major plot inconsistencies…
I am not an editor, my concerns are more story driven, and thus despite these distractions I was able to concentrate on the story and the overall feel of the book.
What I found was a mixed bag. On the one hand, the idea behind the book (a young girl communicating through her dreams with a murder victim) is interesting, but upon execution there are issues.
The first of which is the tone. The themes of the book are dark: murder, child abuse, drug abuse, child psychology, etc. The verbiage, however, and the structure are decidedly simplistic. There is a recurring sing song sort of repetition of names and ideas. The author also relies heavily on “telling” us what the characters are feeling rather than “showing” us.
Maybe that was intentional… to make a point about the interactions of children and adults, to point us toward the truth of these two overlapping worlds, but it wasn’t quite there. Instead the diction seemed watered down for unknown reasons.
The potential of a compelling story was there, it just got lost in the trappings of Trying Too Hard.
There was also the overuse of flashbacks, problems of one dimensional characters, and some unbelievable actions by law enforcements. Add to the mix an obvious red herring of who the bad guy is and a late addition of idea of reincarnation. What we are left with is a story that could have been so much better had it been, in a word, less.
I look forward to future novels by the author, who I believe has a unique voice and an obvious desire to showcase the world from a child’s point of view. A Circle of Souls, however needed more work and fewer issues.