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Maven Books

Reviews about historical, literary, classic, and other fiction.  Miscellaneous book things.

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Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto by Maile Chapman

Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto: A Novel - Maile Chapman

Definitely a strange book.  Part historical fiction, part literary fiction, with a touch of creepiness mixed in as well.  I'm not sure it's entirely successful though, but I wouldn't say it was entirely bad either.

First and foremost, the writing was a mixed bag.  At times, I really liked the way the author described things and set the scene for the reader.  But often, that feeling would be ruined by long, boring, and overly detailed stretches of scene descriptions or inner dialogues.  And I'd often stumble on a sentence that felt like it was dancing around the meaning, requiring a few rereads that didn't always clear things up.  It felt like the author was sometimes referencing things I couldn't identify, but really I think they were things only she got, like an inside joke amongst friends.  Simpler language would help with a lot of these issues.

As for the story, not much happens.  Things meandered for a very long time -- touching upon a lot of characters without fully developing most of them -- and then eventually, very near the end of the book, a lot of big events happen, one right after the other.  It was a bit too much really, despite all the build-up, and it didn't feel like enough of a reward for having slogged through the rest of the book to get there.  I have the feeling that this book started as a short story, but wasn't really enough to work well as a full book, which is a shame.

That said, I did like some aspects of the book, so I don't feel this was a complete waste of time.  I think this author has some strong skills, but with some room for improvement.  The setting and story of this book are certainly unique, and it's not a book that is easily fit into a single category.  I might read some other pieces of her work, but maybe not right away.