Thursday, 27 August 2015

Review: Crow Mountain by Lucy Inglis

Publication Date: September 3rd 2015
Publisher: Chicken House Books
Length: 368 pages

Huge thanks to Chicken House for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

While on holiday in Montana, Hope meets local boy Cal Crow, a ranch hand. Caught in a freak accident, the two of them take shelter in a mountain cabin where Hope makes a strange discovery. More than a hundred years earlier, another English girl met a similar fate. Her rescuer: a horse-trader called Nate. 
In this wild place, both girls learn what it means to survive and to fall in love, neither knowing that their fates are intimately entwined.

This was a surprising novel, one I knew very little about going in, but everything I had heard had more than caught my interest and I was very intrigued going in. The novel gets off to a fairly slow start. I found I was more interested in Hope’s story than Emily’s, and whilst it was enjoyable, it wasn’t quite piquing my interest as I’d hoped. However it is a sly and crafty novel. It creeps up on you, its slow pacing and quiet tones mean that you don’t realise just how deeply you’ve come to care and love these characters until something happens and you find yourself sitting on the floor in floods of tears at three in the morning because it just broke your heart.

And whilst it was busy distracting me with surreptitious feelings, I realised that I had somewhere along the way become more invested in Emily’s story as opposed to Hope’s. Hope’s was interesting and I did enjoy it, but it felt like we didn’t get nearly as much time with Hope and Cal. Whilst we got to see Emily and Nate’s relationship develop and evolve over the course of several months, we only spent a few days with Hope and Cal, and by the end that discrepancy really showed. I was much more invested in Emily’s storyline and I found myself really caring for and rooting for these characters, whereas I wanted it all to turn out ok for Hope and Cal, but it wasn’t the same level of emotional investment.

The slow development of Emily and Nate’s relationship was so well handled. I found myself with a set of expectations for Nate when he is first introduced, and he spends the entire novel shooting them down and being a completely different kind of hero, in the best possible way. It’s a soft, slow build of a relationship that left me feeling more than a little mushy and teary by the end. He and Emily quickly cemented themselves as one of my favourite fictional pairings.

However the last section of the novel didn’t work as well for me. Suddenly both storylines pick up the pace, everything happens at once and Lucy uses a sneaky trick of playing on the readers expectations, which is cleverly done but not something I’m a fan of in most stories. It just felt like so much time was given to developing the story and then the last part was just BOOM, and we’re done. I wanted more of a payoff after coming to care so much about these characters.

So with the slow start and slightly off ending, no matter how much I loved the rest of the book I didn’t feel I could give it a full five stars, however it is definitely a solid four. A surprising read that really crept up on me when I least expected it with a beautiful love story woven through its pages.

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