4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
The Engine Woman’s Light by Laurel Anne Hill is a gritty coming-of-age novel that takes place in nineteenth-century California. Juanita, a girl with a connection to her dead ancestors, is given a mission to stop the trains that take people to the asylums. Juanita’s great-grandmother saved her from going there as a child. This initial mission sets Juanita on a difficult path. She learns who her family is, what love is, and she ultimately finds herself.
Along with Juanita, a mysterious man named Guide, several dead ancestors, and Tony, a seemingly terrible man, work together to blow up the train tunnels. If they can succeed, then the trains will be stopped for several years, and the conditions of the asylums will be brought to light. If they fail, they will all certainly die a painful death.
This book is not a light read. Juanita suffers at the hands of both friends and enemies. None of the characters in this story are perfect people; they all have pasts that haunt them. The characters are incredibly interesting and diverse. Their flaws made them seem real; this was my favorite part.
The pacing of the book was excellent as well. There was never a time I felt bored while reading it. Whenever things started to go right, there was a new problem, and Juanita had to find a new way to adapt. Whether it was a natural obstacle, like lack of water, or another group trying to stop their sabotage of the trains, there was never a dull moment. However, it didn’t feel rushed. Hill created a proportioned blend of action and description. I felt the descriptions were detailed enough without being overwhelming.
Grammatically, this book was practically flawless. I only found one tiny error in the entire book.
I am happy to rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. There was nothing about it I truly disliked. All the elements worked together to create a portal to a different time and place. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a darker coming-of-age novel. I would caution that this book deals with many darker topics, including rape, murder, and abuse. If any of these topics make you uncomfortable, then avoid this book. Hill approaches these topics bluntly and without fear. Additionally, I would only recommend it to mature audiences because of some of the more graphic scenes. If none of that bothers you, then I highly recommend reading this amazing book. It will transport you to a world where the dead walk among the living. It will also remind you that your past doesn't have to define your future. Finally, it will make you question how far you would go to do what you thought was right.
The Engine Woman's Light
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon