Official Review: What Darkens the Hour by Jo-Anne Barker

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kandscreeley
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Official Review: What Darkens the Hour by Jo-Anne Barker

Post by kandscreeley » 29 Aug 2019, 18:38

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "What Darkens the Hour" by Jo-Anne Barker.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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What Darkens the Hour by Jo-Anne Barker is a collection of short stories inspired by fairy tales. There are a total of 43 stories with topics ranging from evil step-mothers to grave robbing to witches and vampires. At the end of each tale, the author shares both the historical inspiration for the story as well as which fairy tale it was based off.

One of my favorite stories was entitled How poorly child workers were treated in work houses (capitalization is the author's). Angelica's Aunt Martha doesn't want to care for her anymore; therefore, she drops Angelica off at a "work house," telling them she found her on the streets. A kind lady comes along and tries to get Angelica back where she belongs. Does she succeed?

I appreciated that the author included historical details about the time period in which the stories were set. It's educational, and the reader learns about everything from conditions in London to details about Jack the Ripper. To me, this was kind of like having your cake and eating it, too - you enjoy a fun story and learn interesting facts at the same time. For instance, after one tale, Ms. Barker tells us about a murderer who lived in the nineteenth century. "Britain’s most prolific serial killer Amelia Dyer ('Angel Maker)' offered adopting services but instead murdered around four hundred infants."

Unfortunately, there were a few issues. First, I thought there were too many stories, and they weren't developed well. If the author concentrated on fewer stories and developed them further, the collection would be far superior. For example, in the first story, there's a time jump that's quite jarring. One moment the protagonist is saying she won't marry the man her mother picked for her. The next she is mourning her husband's death. What happened in the interim? Because there was an abundance of tales, none of them really stood out, either. This wouldn't have been the case with more detailed writing.

Second, the number of grammatical errors in the book made my head spin. Some paragraphs have a space between them, but most do not. "Brought" was often used instead of "bought." Capitalization and punctuation were incorrect. It needs a good proofreader and an even better editor.

I love the idea of this book. It's especially innovative of the author to incorporate real historical events and people with fairy tales. It just needs work before it's ready for mass consumption. With that in mind, I give What Darkens the Hour 2 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to lovers of historical fiction combined with fairy tales, but you must be willing to overlook errors. It would be helpful for the reader to enjoy stories with less detail as well. I can't wait to see what this one looks like after some reworking.

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What Darkens the Hour
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Tomah
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Post by Tomah » 02 Dec 2019, 13:32

It's a shame about the poor editing and the lack of proper development for each story since I'm very intrigued by this combination of fairy tales and historical fiction. I might still check it out at some point. Thanks for the review!

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Post by Miller56 » 02 Dec 2019, 18:26

Thanks for the review. I am not a big fan of short stories. However, this is a different take where there is a combination of fairy tales with the historical fiction. I think I will wait for an updated, edited version before reading.

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Post by kandscreeley » 02 Dec 2019, 19:57

Tomah wrote:
02 Dec 2019, 13:32
It's a shame about the poor editing and the lack of proper development for each story since I'm very intrigued by this combination of fairy tales and historical fiction. I might still check it out at some point. Thanks for the review!
I can still see some enjoying it, which is why I didn't give it one star. If you do find time to read it, I hope you find it satisfactory.
Good books, like good friends, are few and chosen; the more select, the more enjoyable.
-Louisa May Alcott

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kandscreeley
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Post by kandscreeley » 02 Dec 2019, 19:57

Miller56 wrote:
02 Dec 2019, 18:26
Thanks for the review. I am not a big fan of short stories. However, this is a different take where there is a combination of fairy tales with the historical fiction. I think I will wait for an updated, edited version before reading.
I completely understand. It has potential, but it's not quite there yet. Thanks.
Good books, like good friends, are few and chosen; the more select, the more enjoyable.
-Louisa May Alcott

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Post by Bambiears » 03 Dec 2019, 06:39

This does indeed sound like a great idea for a book. There is so much history that was passed to generations through fairy tales and nursery rhymes.

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Post by kandscreeley » 03 Dec 2019, 19:16

Bambiears wrote:
03 Dec 2019, 06:39
This does indeed sound like a great idea for a book. There is so much history that was passed to generations through fairy tales and nursery rhymes.
I love the idea for the book. It just needs a few tweaks. Thanks for commenting.
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Post by kdstrack » 04 Dec 2019, 15:39

I love the premise of these stories. There have been some interesting stories based on the "missing details" of many traditional fairy tales. The popularity of "Malefica" would be one example. The errors would be a hindrance, but the historical elements and the information of how each one was inspired still interest me. I appreciate you clear and logical description of the book. Thanks.

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Post by kperm » 05 Dec 2019, 15:52

It's a shame the book has poor editing. This book had a nice potential, but there a lot of things to improve. Thank you for your honest review!

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Post by mmm17 » 06 Dec 2019, 11:36

I enjoy short stories AND fairy tale motifs. I might check this one out. Thanks!

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