4 out of 4 stars
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After the loss of her second child in a tragic accident in his treehouse, Sienna finds herself in the depths of despair. There are many lingering questions surrounding the death. As the police investigate and neighbors whisper, Sienna desperately yearns to connect with her children. A forest conservationist, she finds solace surrounded by trees and nature. As she begins to experience troubling visions, Sienna wonders if all is as it appears to be. Once symbols of grandeur and enchantment, the trees seem to have become sinister and malicious. Is she losing her mind? Are other forces at work here?
The first thing I noticed about Deciduous, written by Michael Devendorf, is its cover. This, along with the very well-written description, gave a very good first impression. The window-like graphic of the sorrowful woman in the forest seems to invite readers into her story. The entire book is submerged into a world of symbolism and themes. There is an element of mysticism, but this is cleverly intertwined with realism and psychology. The overall theme here is self-preservation; all readers will be able to relate to the tangled web the characters weave for themselves. The protagonist is realistically developed and the secondary characters each fulfill their roles with purpose. There is also some astute introspect as Sienna describes her anguish and the deafening silence of her house that no longer has children.
The best part of this book is the imagery. Time almost seems to stand still as the setting is described. Thunderstorms are illustrated in magnificent detail; as lightning strikes a tree, it does so “not wanting to release it from its electrified grasp.” These descriptions often employed the innovative use of metaphors to further satisfy my senses. I also really enjoyed the emotional imagery. The author’s ability to connect with readers on such a personal, human level is to be commended. He uses just the right words to unmask raw human feelings. “All she wanted to do was bury her face and cry until God felt sorry enough to return her children.”
There is nothing I disliked about this book. In the beginning, I felt the plot was a little stagnant, but I soon came to realize that without this lull, the imagery would not have been as dynamic as it was. The book is professionally edited, with well-organized chapters that were of appropriate length. For the reasons outlined about the book’s imagery, themes, and characterization, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. There is absolutely no reservation about my rating for this book.
I recommend this book to readers who enjoy emotionally charged novels with intriguing, unexpected plots and serious themes. If you are only interested in fast-paced, energetic plots with nonstop action, this may not be the book for you. It would be most appreciated by those who enjoy thought-provoking stories that highlight human nature and relationships.
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