Rummanah Aasi
  While being in a food coma from the past few days, I managed to finish The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. A friend of mine who works at Barnes and Noble recommended this title to me after I ranted on about having a hard time finding adult titles to read. The Lace Reader is an ambitious attempt in weaving folklore with mystery and a psychological thriller. It has a really interesting premise, but it was just an okay read.

Description: Set in the famous Salem, Massachusetts, Towner Whitney returns back home after a serious surgery. She is descended from a line of mind readers and lace readers, fortune tellers who use patterns of the fabric to tell people's fortunes. After her great-aunt Eva has suspiciously drowned and a young girl missing, Towner begins on a long difficult road to recovery and forgiveness while local detective John Rafferty looks into the mystery.

Review: The premise of The Lace Reader is very intriguing. A dark and fascinating story of a family's own dark past of psychics, lace readers, and complex family issues perfectly mirrors the famous city in Massachusetts. The book has a lot of things going for it, however, doesn't take full advantage of all of these aspects.
  For starters, I didn't really like any of the characters. The story is told mainly from Towner's point of view, but also has a third person narrator and from the detective, which does not make the narrative smooth. Towner bluntly tells the reader that she is a liar and not to trust her. Right away, I don't know what is fact and what is fiction. It is not until the police report is mentioned that I start beginning to put the pieces together. As Towner and the mystery unravels, she does become interesting but it that takes a while. Salem, which I hoped to be used a lot more as a character by itself in the story, makes a brief special appearance whenever its history of the witch trials and descriptions of the modern tourist business are mentioned, but I didn't get a rich, eerie sense of place like I expected.
   What also bugged me about the book is the side plot lines that were mentioned and not fully fleshed out. For example, we see the detective fall for Towner, but we don't know really why nor is there any romance. Needless to say their relationship falls flat. Even though the book is called The Lace Reader, there is a feeble attempt in incorporating it into the book. There are small bits of a "Lace Reader's Guide" included at the beginning of each chapter and part, but the idea kind of fizzles when the reader never sees it in action.
   The only reason I kept reading the book is to find solve the mystery, which I think was solved too quickly by giving huge chucks of background information all at once. It was hard to digest and sort out. The "plot twist" wasn't surprising at all and I had a hunch about it while reading the book. Overall, The Lace Reader is a decent read, but it's definitely not high on my recommendation list.   

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is language throughout the book as well as allusions to sexual and physical abuse.

If you like this book try: Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane or The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry
1 Response
  1. Unknown Says:

    Thanks for the review! That's what I'd been thinking, that this would be an interesting book, but that I could wait on it and just pick it up from the library sometime. I'm not always in the mood for unreliable narrators. :-)

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