3 out of 4 stars
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Thomas Thormes has always been a big dreamer. As a kid, he idolized the wealthy neighborhood of Queen Anne Hill, fantasizing about his perfect life there. The place was also where his father, Theodore, had built a business empire that lasted for twenty years. While investigating the mysterious circumstances behind his father’s success and failure, Thomas comes across a secret that would change his life. Now that he’s a young man with ambitions of building a bank, will he succeed or meet the same fate as Theodore?
Davide Deidda’s The Mystery of Thomas Thormes is a very peculiar book that I have a hard time defining. Perhaps “magical realism” is the most appropriate label. The story consists of twenty chapters and follows Thomas from his childhood to his early adulthood. It’s narrated in the third-person perspective.
At a surface level, the novel tells the entrepreneurship journey of our protagonist and his friend, emphasizing the importance of believing in your dreams. Beneath this facade, however, there is an underlying sense of uneasiness that always keeps you on the edge. Even while cheering for Thomas and celebrating his victories, you can’t dispel the feeling that something terrible is about to happen. This suspenseful atmosphere is the book’s strongest aspect.
Sadly, the suspense never goes anywhere. Before we even begin to make sense of the supernatural elements in the story, the book abruptly ends. There’s nothing wrong with creating cliffhangers for the sequel, but the author should still make sure to craft a satisfying plot that stands on its own. Unfortunately, that’s where the novel fails.
While Thomas is a charismatic character and John is a fun side-kick, they aren’t particularly strong characters that can carry the weight of the narrative. Indeed, if you remove the supernatural elements, the story is rather basic. This is why it’s such a problem that the novel keeps building up to something big but never delivers. Without the emotional payout, the book feels somewhat hollow.
Ultimately, the impression in my mind after reading The Mystery of Thomas Thormes is that I’ve just had a delicious aperitif, but the staff told me to wait until the next year for the actual meal. The atmosphere completely hooked me, and I enjoyed the characters, but the book simply didn’t feel complete. Since it’s also exceptionally edited (I’ve only found one minor error), I would gladly rate it 4 out of 4 stars if the ending were satisfactory. In its current state, however, I can only rate the book 3 out of 4 stars.
There are only minor profanities in the book, so it’s suitable for teenagers. I recommend the novel if you enjoy suspense and magical realism. I don’t recommend it if you prefer character-driven narratives.
The Mystery of Thomas Thormes
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