Posted in Literature

Read: Final Cut

Final CutFinal Cut by S.J. Watson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Note: this was an e-ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

To me, one of the key features of a thriller or mystery book is that I can’t guess the ending. Unfortunately for Final Cut, I guessed the ‘big twist’ within the first 20% of the book and spent the rest of the time waiting to be proved right as the author threw things at me to try and convince me otherwise. By the final 10%, where said twist is revealed and everything I had guessed was confirmed I felt more like I had been reading as a chore and that the majority of the story had been inconsequential.

The MC at times behaves contrary to all the information she has available to her; pursuing a man she’s accusing of murdering girls that in a previous or next chapter she’s adamant are both alive despite everyone she ‘trusts’ in the village telling her said man wouldn’t have done such a thing, that he’s harmless and he’s only ever tried to help. Her complete belligerence at blaming him for events seems completely at odds with her relatively logical approach to everything else. It felt too much like the author was trying to force a distraction on the reader to disguise the truth. The MC trusts some complete strangers that no-one has vouched for but then doesn’t trust this other stranger who everyone has vouched for.

The story itself had potential and is almost certainly, and depressingly, based on the terrible abuses real people have suffered and it is a shame it has been executed so poorly here in Final Cut. While the MC is struggling with her memory, I still don’t think that forgives the confused signals we get from her and her motivations.

Finally, I am unsure whether the e-ARC I received had chapters out of order as there were two occasions were the MC references other characters by name who we have not been introduced to yet and in a subsequent chapter we’re then introduced to them. As I say, I’m not sure if this was a mistake and edits will be done before publication or whether it was intentional as an attempt to make the reader doubt their own memory, much as our MC does throughout the book. In either event, I found it frustrating and it felt like a mistake so made me wonder about the editing process. There was one other instance that I spotted which seemed to have been missed in editing – whether that’s picked up on between now and retail, maybe, so I let it slide.

Overall, there was a bit too much that didn’t make sense in the book on top of the poor characterisation, weird editing decisions and the endless buffeting of distractions away from an otherwise predictable ending.

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Posted in Literature

Read: Mexican Gothic

Mexican GothicMexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Silvia Moreno-Garcia writes exquisite prose and weaves amazing stories and worlds, seemingly, effortlessly. When Noemí arrives at High Place to find her cousin Catalina taken ill, after receiving such an alarming letter from her some weeks before, she is immediately suspicious – as are we, the readers. What follows is an expert lesson in the Gothic full of intrigue and suspense in a remote 1950’s mould-ridden mansion in Mexico, inhabited by some very peculiar characters in the Doyle family. A family obsessed with England and holding on to some very racist and misogynist ideals in an overly strict household that ‘no one leaves’.

Without giving too much away, Mexican Gothic will have you guessing from the start as to what is really going on at High Place. Where Noemí’s nightmares may take you one way, her conversations with the various Doyles will take you another, and all the while we wonder what is really behind Catalina’s sickness? This is a great book from a brilliant writer and a must-read for any Gothic Horror fans.

For me, the Gothic genre is not quite my thing and I found the first half of the story a little slow, which is why I’ve given it 4 stars instead of 5. The final third of the book flew by and will certainly ensure you remember to watch what you eat in creepy strangers’ houses.

This was book #38 of my 2020 reading challenge.