3 out of 4 stars
Review by MarisaRose
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Set in the Middle Ages, Northdale explores the boundaries of gender norms during a time period when women experienced significantly fewer rights and employment and educational opportunities than their male counterparts. The author very favorably depicts women throughout the story, which is rather unusual for a book of this time period. The female characters were particularly enjoyable as they were strong willed and defied gender stereotypes. The depiction of women in Northdale strengthened the story and set it apart from other books of a similar caliber.
The novel is fast paced and the story moves quickly. However, some parts felt rushed. I would have liked if the author went into greater detail about certain aspects of Sara and Rupert’s life together in Northdale. For example, the birth of their first child is mentioned only in passing, as the author quickly moves through large periods of time. More time spent on events like this would have created a stronger emotional connection to the characters.
Grammatical errors are apparent throughout Northdale, though they do not take away from the reading experience. Errors mostly include incorrect word choice (using “of” when “as” is meant) and simple misspellings. Other than the editorial mishaps, my main criticism of Northdale relates to the author’s writing style. Throughout the novel, the writing is rather dry; it wasn’t really engaging or lively. The author did a lot of telling instead of showing. For example, when Rupert first arrives at Northdale as the new Sheriff, he calls a meeting of Northdale’s people to better understand their concerns about the land. The author states the meeting was held and then lists the concerns of the people. This scene would have been much more impactful and engaging if the reader could have heard the voices of the people of Northdale and the despair they felt instead of just reading facts.
Although the plot of Northdale was incredibly engaging, the writing lacked luster and thus I rate Northdale 3 out of 4 stars. If the writing style had better conveyed emotion and there had been fewer editorial issues, I would have gladly given Northdale 4 stars. Since I was still captivated by this novel, I recommend this book to fans of historical fiction, especially focusing on the Middle Ages. Additionally, those who enjoy strong female characters will surely like this book.
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