4 out of 4 stars
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Heather and the Jabberwocky: An Amorous Journey into the Mythical Antiquity of Now, by Peter Kelton, is a literary thriller unlike any book in its genre. The story follows Heather, a unique woman with a haunted past, and her husband, Paul, an artist and professor at the renowned Jabberwocky Institute of Art and Design. Now in her forties, a spur of the moment decision in Heather’s early twenties has come back to haunt her. While on the run from a man who wants to kill her, Heather attempts to come to terms with her past and mend her failing marriage. Simultaneously, Paul struggles with an ethical dilemma surrounding his employer.
The most engaging aspect of Heather and the Jabberwocky is the genuinely creative storytelling found in its pages. The novel's dark and sometimes-humorous tone proved to be a unique play on a typical thriller: the characters are strange, the story is bizarre, and the text is inspired. Planting the novel's roots in various mythologies, the author utilizes these peculiarities to explore philosophical themes that connect to everyday life. Engaging parallels to the great artist Monet and the poem referenced in the book’s title furthered the thought-provoking feel of Kelton’s creative storytelling. Additionally, the plot is skillfully laid out, with an unexpected and exciting twist at the end.
Despite the cleverness of the ending, I found that it failed to do justice for the title character. Without giving too much away, the ending made the majority of the story’s focus seem pointless. The exploration of Heather’s mental state and questionable past fell to the wayside as the true plot twist took center stage. A similar lack of focus could be felt in other areas of the story, too. For instance, the author tended towards long expositions about irrelevant subjects disguised in the form of character dialogue. These sections significantly slowed the pace of the narrative and failed to add to the already established quirkiness of the characters.
Moreover, the author employs literary elements throughout the novel. Foreshadowing and red herrings are used to create a sense of mistrust among the characters. However, these elements ultimately resulted in false storylines, which is something I strongly dislike. Furthermore, the main characters had very few redeeming qualities. I disliked Heather, mostly because the attempt at making her character mysterious is insignificant by the end. Similarly, Paul, who narrates portions of the novel, is vapid, selfish and incredibly boring. I found the secondary characters equally distasteful. Overall, the lack of likable characters made this one difficult for me to maneuver.
I struggled to rate this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the expert writing, intriguing plot, and thought-provoking use of literary elements. However, the distasteful characters, sometimes-boring dialogue, and trick ending, left me feeling rather unhappy with the novel. Although this wasn’t one of my favorites, I enjoyed the ride and cannot stop thinking about some aspects of the story. Further, I think many readers will appreciate this book's creativity. Based on the distinctly subjective nature of the aspects I disliked about Heather and the Jabberwocky, and because Kelton's writing is simply full of merit, I decided on a 4 out of 4 star rating. Readers interested in a thought-provoking thriller filled with literary elements, and who don’t mind noteworthy but unsympathetic characters, will, at the very least, find Kelton’s storytelling captivating.
Heather and the Jabberwocky
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