2 out of 4 stars
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Set during the 1800s, The Medallion by Priscilla B. Shuler tells the fictional story of Teresa, a seemingly common girl whose mother, Gretchen, holds a dark secret about the past. Teresa works as a lowly maid at Covington Court, where Lord Harry has taken ill. When Teresa is called upon to take care of the ailing lord, she helps coax Lord Harry back to life with the help of her mother, who is known for her healing abilities. Everything changes for the young maid when the newly-revived Lord Harry takes an interest in Teresa and Gretchen finally reveals her long-kept secret.
The basic outline for the story contained in The Medallion has a lot of potential. Teresa and Gretchen could be engaging characters: outcasts of a sort, made even more intriguing by the secret that shrouds their past. Further, the author does a great job of creating intricate familial lines, which tends to be a necessity when it comes to historical fiction set during this period. The plot is expertly set up to ensure the secret of Teresa’s heritage and her connections to Lord Harry and her mother could lead to some explosive revelations.
Unfortunately, although the basis for a good story exists within the pages of The Medallion, the majority of the narrative fails to elicit excitement. There is a debilitating lack of tension when it comes to the dramatic elements of this story. For instance, at one point, a terrifying character from Gretchen’s past crosses paths with Lord Harry and Teresa; this character had the potential to cause great harm to Teresa in particular. However, other than a brief sighting and a poorly explained resolution taking place on the night of Teresa’s debut, this allegedly troublesome character is glossed over.
Similarly, none of the characters are given adequate attention. This is especially true when it comes to the secondary characters. These characters appear at random, and the author always provides some introduction to explain their sudden appearance. This proved to be both unrealistic and a distraction from the storytelling. None of the secondary characters were seamlessly integrated into the plot. Moreover, the main characters, especially Lord Harry and Teresa, are one-dimensional at best. Both characters are mere outlines of a person, and both fail to grow throughout the course of the novel. Neither character has a completely developed persona; Lord Harry is perfectly nice, and Teresa is perfectly sweet.
The Medallion did not live up to the great potential that lives within the intricately thought-out story arc the author created. There is so much potential for an engaging family saga in The Medallion, but the lack of tension in the storytelling and the painfully flat characters made it difficult to become attached to this story. Readers who are looking for a quick and easy jaunt into the 1800s and the world of lords and ladies might enjoy this historical fiction. However, readers who enjoy intricate details, vivid characters, and thorough storytelling will be disappointed. Therefore, I rate The Medallion 2 out of 4 stars.
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