3 out of 4 stars
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A Pyre of Roses by Roland P. Joseph delves into the mysterious past of Michael Attzs. Left at an orphanage at a young age, his past is a puzzle. When his wife and child are murdered, the people around him fear that his life, too, might be in danger. As the murders are investigated, Michael’s loved ones begin to learn more about where he came from. When the murders are solved, Michael asks that the investigation of his background be stopped. But by this point, the ball has already been set in motion, and the reader continues to learn about Michael through the stories of others. Full of surprises, deceit, and betrayals, this is one book that I just couldn’t put down.
The novel takes place on the island of Trinidad in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. I thought that the culture of the island during the time period was portrayed well. Throughout the book there is a rift between the different races and social classes on the island. This rift is what led to most of the deceit between characters. It is also a big part of why Michael’s past is so mysterious. Continuing on with the use of culture, I enjoyed the language that the author used. The dialogue was written as if it were actually being spoken by the different characters. Each person had his or her own way of speaking that matched his or her class and descent.
As I mentioned before, a lot about Michael’s past is uncovered through the stories of other characters. The use of multiple characters created several unique storylines that were weaved perfectly together. It also provided multiple conflicts and solutions, which kept the book entertaining. There was constantly something new popping up to keep me on my toes.
Another unique element of the book was the inclusion of a novella. The novella told the story of one of the characters who had died before the starting time of the book. Because the character was already dead, the story couldn’t follow him in present time to see how he was related to Michael. I think the novella was a great way to follow this character.
While I enjoyed the book for the most part, there were a few downfalls. First, the timeline jumps around a lot. This is okay when it mentions the time period, but a couple of times it didn’t. Other times it mentioned it, but the the story would move forward without saying how much time had passed, which can be kind of confusing. Another downfall was that the amount of description included in the book was inconsistent. Some parts were described in length, while other parts lacked detail. The final downfall was that the beginning of the book seemed to be edited very well, but there were quite a few errors toward the end of the book. They weren’t major errors (mostly just missing letters, words, and punctuation), but they were a bit distracting.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. The storyline was unique and intriguing. I found myself thinking about Michael and his past even when I wasn’t reading the book. I liked that it was a book that you have to really pay attention to or else you miss serious details. I feel like it really stretched my brain. There were a few things that I didn’t like, but it was still a really good story. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a bit of mystery and an intellectual read. I give this book 3 out of 4 stars.
A Pyre of Roses
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