The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter

DNF pg. 156
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: January, 2014–Rereleased February, 2016
Source: Free Review Copy Provided

I was offered a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way. All opinions are my own.

India, 1837
William Avery is a young soldier with a great admiration for the writer Mounstuart. So, when the British company decides to send out to find this writer who seems to have mysteriously disappeared into the native lands, Avery is shocked when he is chosen to embark on said mission. He’s more surprised, and all together unnerved, when he is forced to travel with Jeremiah Blake, a political agent that has “gone native.” Blake is a very intelligent man with characteristics drawn from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. This adventure also features inspiration from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Will Avery and Blake make it out with their lives?

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Despite this gorgeous cover, I had a really hard time getting into this book. I try not to read synopses of books before diving into them, so I didn’t much know what I was getting into with this one. I will say that the plot seemed incredibly promising: however, I found myself not pulled into it. This book was fairly dry and felt very uneventful.

Now, as I was unable to finish this book, I’m not going to rate it, because I felt it had some very positive aspects. I thought the writing was really well done. The writing was definitely not what I had any problems with. Carter comes off as a very intelligent woman in a way that I didn’t feel like she was purposefully showing off her intelligence. Her writing is lyrically beautiful and quite stunning.

I think the reason I couldn’t finish this book is because this is a piece of fiction that’s trying too hard to be nonfiction. I liked the ideas of this book, and I did enjoy how rich (and I’m assuming, given Carter’s background, accurate) this story is, but there just wasn’t enough going on for me to be enthralled with this story. I think I would have enjoyed this more if it were a researched piece of nonfiction, and I am actually considering checking out one or both of Carter’s other nonfiction books.

It may also be the undertones and relative similarities to Conrad’s work. I am not a fan of Heart of Darkness–I found it had too much white imperialism and not enough of, well, anything for my tastes. Although, I definitely feel like Carter has a much greater respect for the Indian culture than Conrad did. And it was not approbation or anything negative in that nature that caused me to dislike this book.

It was mainly just the uneventful plot. I found that the pages were dragging on, and I was perpetually waiting for something to happen. I just couldn’t bring myself to want to pick this book up to read. After over a week and not even being halfway, I decided to DNF this book.

Conclusively, I’m not going to tell you to avoid reading this book. Just because it didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for youIf you like the description of this book and are looking for or enjoy more of a dry read, then, by all means, I encourage you to try this book. It really is well-written and a beautiful piece of work.

Book Depository – $8.59


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