If you know me by now you will have realized that as soon as I saw that cover I had to have this book. It was love at first sight. The story just enhanced my love of the cover and you can bet I want a bracelet like that. Isn’t it gorgeous - the description of the setting and the stone within the narrative is utterly mesmerizing. However, you are constantly posing the questions: Where did it come from? How much power does it really have? And what are the consequences? I have to say that the writing style as a whole has a beautiful descriptive quality that captured my imagination and kept me reading into the wee small hours.
All the characters were well rounded and relatable. I was really drawn to Alex, becoming totally invested in her future. I love it when that happens, that a protagonist can get so deeply into your imagination that you feel her emotions as if they were your own. The story lulls us into a false sense of security, building the plot gently layer by layer until before you know it you are on a rollercoaster ride of emotion. For me the story had fairytale quality to it with a modern setting.
I know you are wondering if I am going to start swooning over the male protagonist, Callum, well I won’t disappoint you. OMGosh YES. He is so sweet, caring and let’s not forget HOT [ ; D ] As the truth about his situation as a ‘Dirge’ becomes clear within the narrative you have to admire his strength of spirit and innate charm. The way he only takes mundane memories in order to prevent himself sinking into despair just adds to his appeal. The actual use of the word ‘Dirge’ to describe the existence of these people who have perished in the waters of an offshoot of the Thames (I can’t for the life of me remember the name at the moment – blah this always happens)apparently by their own hands is rather inspired; as a Dirge is the name used for a somber song expressing mourning or grief. Which is how the ‘Dirges’ spend their existence in a perpetual state of mourning/grief. This type of existence and gathering of memories brought to my mind the Harpies from Phillip Pullmans His Dark Materials. On a personal note, I did find it disturbing that the Dirges could be inducing Alzheimer’s by taking memories, as my mother had Alzheimer’s.
You all already know how much I love the idea of soul mates and destiny. The bracelet is like a conduit to bring to soul mates together; to my mind I also think of it as a test to see if they can overcome the obstacles in their path to be together. Plus the danger from the other ‘Dirges’ adds to the thrill of the plot. The relationship between Alex and Callum is sweet and touching, blossoming slowly into passion. Open, honest, direct and utterly refreshing, touching, lovely, I think I need more words.
Alex has a wonderful, supportive family and the depiction of their close relationship was heart-warming. It also emphasized the guilt Alex feels by having to keep Callum a secret. The little alterations in her personality/actions that she has to make in order to ‘be’ with Callum do not go wholly unnoticed. Alex is also lucky enough to have a wonderfully loyal friend in the shape of Grace, I adored her ability to scour charity shops and transform outfits. Grace is always there to provide a shoulder whenever Alex needs it, non-judgmental and steadfast. Alex is lucky to have her.
Now that I have mentioned the ‘good’ characters I have to mention the ‘bad’. Let’s start with Rob – the hot guy crush from school that Alex wanted to date prior to meeting Callum. This guy needs to be hit over the head with a stick. I won’t go into details about their ‘date’ but seriously someone find him and hit him. These characters were so real to me I would have tracked him down myself if I could. The saying don’t judge a book by its cover certainly applies to Rob, hot on the outside and mean on the inside, completely narcissistic and self-centered I was concerned as to what he would do next.
Then we come to Catherine, Callum’s sister and fellow dirge, her hatred and maliciousness appear to be the only things that keep her going. Her personality is such a contrast to Callum’s; you wonder how on earth they are from the same family. There are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding Catherine, I really need to know why she is the way she is, was there a cause or is it her natural disposition. There are still a lot of things to be unearthed about the ‘Dirges’ I NEED to know.
One thing I made a note of to mention about this book is how it captures the British pub culture perfectly. I don’t think any other culture in the world has the same affinity for pubs as the British. The portrayal within the narrative was realistic and completely relatable. The added benefit of the 80’s pop culture reference had me giggling away to myself.
There is a SURPRISE ending (I wasn’t expecting at all) opening up a whole world of possibilities for the direction of the story. I cannot wait to find out what happens next. Plus I think I am going to miss Callum while I am waiting [ ; D ]
I admit to rambling and have been accused of gushing on a number of occasions but feel that good books deserve to be gushed over, this is one of them.