Lost – Gregory Maguire

Synopsis (Taken from Inside Cover):

Winifred Rudge, a bemused writer struggling to get beyond the runaway success of her mass-market astrology book, travels to London to jump-start her new novel about a woman who is being haunted by the ghost of Jack the Ripper. Upon her arrival, she finds that her stepcousin and old friend John Comestor has disappeared, and a ghostly presence seems to have taken over his home. Is the spirit Winnie’s great-great-grandfather, who, family legend claims, was Charles Dickens’s childhood inspiration for Ebenezer Scrooge? Could it be the ghostly remains of Jack the Ripper? Or a phantasm derived from a more arcane and insidious origin? Winnie begins to investigate and finds herself the unwilling audience for a drama of specters and shades — some from her family’s peculiar history and some from her own unvanquished past.

In the spirit of A. S. Byatt’s Possession, with dark echoing overtones of A Christmas Carol,  Lost presents a rich fictional world that will enrapture its readers.

I have found when reading Maguire’s novels (I’ve read Wicked, Lost, and started  Mirror, Mirror, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, and Son of a Witch) the beginning takes some work to get through. Although Lost was much easier of a start than Wicked, it was still slow, and you weren’t really sure where it was going. The easier start doesn’t really make up for the remainder of the novel in comparison with Wicked either. In my opinion, Wicked was much better overall.

PACE: The pace in Lost varied greatly and would pop up throughout the novel often. The story would be going along fine, and then you would reach a new section or break, and it would drag for about 4 pages, then pick up again. The changes in pace made it difficult to get “sucked in” to the novel. I love to feel like I’m actually there with the characters when I read a book; I didn’t get that feeling with Lost. It was easy for me to get distracted by whatever David was watching on TV, the cats, or the dishwasher while reading this book.

FORMAT: I wasn’t a huge fan of the format of the book either. I’m a supporter of many small-medium length chapters. Lost was set up with five “staves”, and although there were breaks in these staves, it didn’t make up for the daunting task of only having five real sections in the book. That’s just personal preference item though.

CONTENT: The story is not what you expect after reading the summary. Maguire has a tendancy to “steal” other stories and write new novels off of those well known stories, so I expected there to be a lot more reference to A Christmas Carol than there actually was. The lack of reference didn’t have an effect on how I felt about the book. It just surprised me. [An upside to the lack of reference was that it didn’t feel like a Christmas book, even though the synopsis leans in that direction. Which made me feel better about reading it in October].

CHARACTERS: The book did surprise me a few times, which is why I kept reading. The story would change and all of a sudden I needed to know what would happen next (This occured most often in the third and fourth staves). Unfortunately, that is most of the praise that I have for this book. I never felt engaged by Winnie’s character, and I wanted to learn more about the secondary characters. I didn’t feel sorrow, angst, fear, or sympathy for Winnie as she was dealing with the spirits/ghosts/phantoms; therefore, I was never emotionally connected to a book. Because of that, at some point, I found myself wanting to finish the book out of principle rather than interest.

The best part about the book is that Maguire did a good job of creating a full circle story for Winnie. Unfortunately, Winnie is really the only character that you don’t have questions about at the end.

OVERALL: I found myself wanting a lot more out of this read, and I just didn’t get it. Therefore, Lost gets two and a half stars. Enough to make me finish, but not enough for me to really even recommend.

Currently Reading: Pride and Predjudice and Zombies – Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (I learned they are making this into a movie in 2012.)


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