"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mind Catcher by John Darnton

This is the first John Darnton book I have read but, unfortunately, I am not motivated to try his others after stumbling through this slow-moving and less than original novel. I found the book somewhat boring up until when, and I do not think I am giving anything away here, the computer sends its first message (those who have read it will understand).

The plot is quite simple: an evil doctor believes he can capture the "soul" of a person and keep it alive even if the body dies. Not overly original but if told right, it could be a really fun read. Yet the avenue to get to the substance of the story is somewhat winding and the book feels almost padded for length. I thought it could have been about 100 pages shorter.

The biggest thing that irks me is how this book seems to flip between genres. One minute it's a ghost story, then a medical thriller, then a science fiction novel, and closes out with a climax right out of the movie "Flatliners." What kept me reading was the father-son story but otherwise I barely made it through the novel. I was also disappointed the ending did not fully resolve the elongated story that preceded it.

I guess there are two types of books for someone like me who reads at night; those that keep you up at night and those that help you fall asleep. I would put "Mind Catcher" in the latter group.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Turn of the Screw by Henry James

This classic book is a ghost story of sorts. It is not the traditional kind, with chains and things, but it is more of a psychological suspence story. A young governess goes to take care of two children- Flora, age 8, and Miles, age 10. She soon learns that their old governess and her lover both mysteriously died. As the story goes on she begins to see apparitions of the two dead people, and she is convinced that the children have something to with it. During the whole story she works to save them from the ghosts. However, you are left to decide the whole time whether what she is seeing is real or if the kids are really guilty or if she is psycho or what.

I liked the way the plot went because I was left to figure out and interpret things for myself the whole way along. James did not just come out and say things but left them to be interpreted by many different ways. This may be frustrating for readers who like the story to be spelt out to them, but if you like suspense and trying to see a story from many different viewpoints, you will like the story too.