Saturday, July 05, 2008

REVIEW: The Ghost Orchid

Title: The Ghost Orchid
Author: Carol Goodman
Protagonist: writer Ellis Brooks
Setting: Bosco, a writer's retreat in upstate New York
Literary Mystery
Rating: C

First Line: I came to Bosco for the quiet.

Ellis Brooks is given permission to write her first novel at Bosco, an exclusive writer's retreat in upstate New York, because the book is centered around what happened there in 1893. The longer Ellis stays, the creepier the gardens at Bosco become and the more Ellis is convinced that the dead lie very uneasily there.

The Ghost Orchid isn't bad; it just doesn't do a thing for me. I knew as I was reading that the gardens were supposed to be creeping me out. They didn't. The two alternating storylines were very uneven. Compared to the characters living at Bosco in 1893 when it was still a private home, Ellis and her gang of fellow writers seemed very two-dimensional. The only time this technique works is when both stories are strong and impel the reader back and forth in time, eager to devour the next installment of each. In a case such as The Ghost Orchid where one storyline is much weaker than the other, the book limps along like a woman who's lost a heel from one of her shoes. It's a shame because the book certainly had potential.

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