Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Foretelling - Alice Hoffman

Publishing: Oct. 25th, 2016. Open Road Media.
Page Count: 72 pgs (e-book)
Find the Author: website

"Born out of sorrow in an ancient time of blood and war, Rain is a girl marked by destiny. Her mother, Alina, is the proud queen of a tribe of female warriors, yet she refuses to touch or even look at her only daughter. Determined to win her mother’s love and take her rightful place as the next queen, Rain becomes a brave and determined fighter. But the dream of a black horse clouds her future, portending death. As one devastating battle follows the next, Rain hopes for a different life for her tribe beyond never-ending bloodshed. Peace, mercy, and love, however, are forbidden words in her language—can Rain teach her sisters to speak in a new tongue before it’s too late?" - Nabbed from Goodreads. 

I've been seeking a take on the Amazon culture for a while (outside of Wonderwoman) now. Having Alice Hoffman, author of my beloved Practical Magic, write one was like getting an extra chocolate bar out of the vending machine. Trust in an author goes a long way. It leads you to buy a book without reading based on the expectation that it's worthy to stand on your shelf. It deeply pains me to say that I am happy I didn't buy this book in physical form. Because...it doesn't quite stand up to Hoffman's reputation. 

Yea, that hurt to say. 

She brought me PRACTICAL MAGIC. 

IT'S ABOUT THE AMAZONS. 

And yet...it doesn't stand up. 

We open up on a young Amazonian narrating her life. Her mother is cold towards her, she's raised by the Priestesses, tutored by the best warriors. The premise, the plot is pulling towards the readers. Brings you in with such hope. The world building that is told (told not shown - but more on that later) is shiny and hopeful...at first. And you keep reading because you want to have more...except you don't exactly get it. My personal pet peeve is when a world is built and it's entirely and utterly confusing - you can't figure a picture in your head of what's going down. That's NOT what happened. Foretelling might not live up to Hoffman's reputation but it's still Hoffman we're reading. The problem I faced was that I couldn't connect to the characters, the world was told far more than it was shown, and it went way too fast. The book (in e-book) was only 72 pages. It read like a rough draft (a good one, but still a rough draft) where the characters needed to be fleshed out and the narration needed to be crafted with visual and emotion-based world building. 

72 digital pages was not enough to fully flesh out the plot. There was so much the reader could have experienced. It read like a myth being told - which makes sense considering it is about the Amazons - but what you wanted (and expected) was a novel. 

A positive of Foretelling was the imagery inspired by the many animals Rain and her people were close to. Not just horses - but bees as well were sacred to them. Rain bonded and raised a bear cub as close to her as her horse. The bear became part of her spirit, her strength, her personality. For those who know a little about animal symbolism - it reads as a nod to foreshadowing, a extra foundation of which to understand Rain's personality and motives. 

As for the actual prophecy part of the novel named "The Foretelling"...it was a surprising twist. The prophecy is a mixture of symbolism, self-perpetuated destiny, and the circle of life. Also bad (or excellent) timing. It's a fitting tribute to Rain's journey and of course, she would act the way that she did. It's got all the makings of a emotional punch in the heart. The kind that makes you cry, freak out, get WAY into a fictional story so far that you wonder if you're kind of maybe a nut job - but it...just doesn't deliver the blow. 

I literally pouted after finishing up the 72nd page.  That was it? I wanted more! THERE WAS SO MUCH MORE WE COULD HAVE EXPERIENCED. Novels are meant to give experiences, they're meant to have so much written that the author is forced by their editor to cut their precious baby scenes out. What I read wasn't a finished novel. It was the bones of an potentially excellent novel written by a talented author. Hence, the experience I was expecting (and looking forward to) wasn't what I got.

It wasn't a waste of my Saturday evening. However, I couldn't suggest purchasing it to put on your shelf (the highest degree of recommendation I can give). If you are intrigued by myths and by the Amazons, if you enjoy Alice Hoffman - borrow it from the library or catch the digital on sale. 

3 out of 5 stars. 

Until next time, 

Jess

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