Publisher: Simon & SchusterRelease Date: February 12th, 2013
Genre: Young Adult- Paranormal
Source: I received an ARC from the author.
Blurb: In life, in death: family remains.
Silas Umber has finally come into his own as the Undertaker of Lichport when a mysterious invitation calls him beyond the marshes to Arvale, the ancestral manor of the Umbers. There, his extended family endures, waiting for a living Undertaker to return and preside over the Door Doom, an archaic rite that grants a terrible power to summon and bind the dead in judgment.
As Silas assumes the mantle of Janus, the Watcher at the Threshold, deep below the earth in the catacombs and sunken towers, grim spirits grow restless at his arrival—hungry for freedom and eager for vengeance against a family with a long history of harsh judgments. Now, Silas must right an ancient wrong and accept that even a house of ghosts can be haunted by its past—for in matters of family, we are who we were.
Review: Before I get started, I need to mention a small disclaimer. I consider the author a friend, but I want my readers to know that this did not affect my reading or reviewing of this novel. As always, my reviews are completely honest and reflect the way I truly feel.
I also need to mention how much of a huge fan I am of this series. Death Watch is seriously one of my favorite books of all time. If you haven't read it, you are seriously missing out. It's not a book for everybody, but if you like gothic, spooky, rich and atmospheric reads, I think you will enjoy it. I savored every word and passage in that novel. It contains some of the most gorgeous writing I have seen in a long time.
A lot of all those wonderful things carried into the second book in the series, Mistle Child. The writing is still entrancing, the gothic feel still there. But in many ways, Mistle Child is a very different book. Silas has grown up a lot, but I also feel that he was much more selfish in this book than he was in the last. And I know characters have to grow throughout a series, but I didn't like him as much as I did last time. Something he does at the end of the book specifically had me hopping mad. Not necessarily a bad thing and it certainly intrigued me to pick up the next book as soon as I can, but it's hard because my love for Silas has diminished a bit. I still think that he has the chance to redeem himself though which is more than I can say about a lot of other YA protagonists.
Other different things? Death Watch was set in the gothic, crumbling town of Lichport. Mistle Child was still set nearby, but in a much more specific area, and I really found myself missing Lichport and its inhabitants. All the characters that I fell in love with in the last book have very small roles in this one. Especially Silas' great-great-grandfather. But all things must change, and it's not that I didn't love Mistle Child, because I did. But it wasn't entirely what I was expecting.
That being said, this is a wonderful book with tons of atmosphere and a really unique plot. As you might remember, Silas is the current Undertaker of Lichport. He is summoned to the Arvale estate of his descendants to perform undertaking duties. He is warned many times before he gets there that things are not as they seem, and let me tell you, they are not. Arvale is an estate full of secrets and mysteries just waiting to be unraveled. It's a beautiful thing, really. Each ghost I got to know felt very different from the last, and they all had very distinct personalities and different voices. To me, this is the mark of a great writer. When your characters jump off the page, you know you are doing something right.
Mistle Child, like it's predecessor, is a slowly paced novel. There is a plot, but it takes patience and a love of the English language to keep you turning the pages. This is why I say it is not the book for everyone. It has a very literary feel and is not like most YA novels I have read. But the series is original, brilliantly rendered, and has a great story and characters if the reader is willing to savor the writing. This is a book that has created emotions in me that I didn't even know were present.
I may not have liked this book quite as much as the first, but it's still a brilliant piece of fiction from one of my favorite authors. I fully believe that the issues I had with Silas will be fixed in book three. Hopefully Silas' great-great-grandfather will show up more. I am interested to see where the storyline with Beatrice will go. I am excited to see how the author will wrap the trilogy. And once again, I need to say that if you like authors like Francis Hardinge, Cat Valente, Diane Setterfield, Zoe Marriott, and Jay Kristoff, I can see you enjoying this series. These are books for series readers, writers, and folklore lovers. If you are one of these people, I encourage you to give it a chance.
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