3 out of 5 stars.
New disclaimer due to new Amazon rules: I was gifted a free electronic copy of this book by Simon and Schuster (Australia), via Netgalley. I am not obligated, nor being forced, to post a review – I’m doing it of my own free will as I enjoy reviewing.
On advice from Amazon, and based on their emailed reply I can say – “My review is given voluntarily and the Author/publisher does not require a review in exchange for the book, or attempt to influence my review.”
I am really in two minds over this book… I started to have a real love/hate relationship with it and I am blaming most of it on the fact I read an uncorrected ARC and not the final copy. As, basically, there were so many flaws I got irritated as they were the sorts of things an editor and proof reader would have fixed up (and I really hope they have).
Names of characters changed, night became day in just one paragraph – as in it was evening and dark, but the cat was still sunning itself in a patch of sunlight. The Mulberry trees had leaves in the winter, and there were roses in bloom in one of the coldest winters on record… I could go on but won’t as I don’t like to sound nit-picky. I just wanted to give examples as to why ‘Beyond the Orchard’ rubbed me the wrong way from time to time.
As for the love side… I did really enjoy the tales within tales and swapping between the eras and characters and points of view. I feel it worked well and added great depth to the story, but I also found it a little disjointed. I mean, I did the maths and it all added up correctly, but I just got the feeling that the times and dates didn’t fit and I don’t know why. They did… but they just felt like they didn’t.
The mystery part of ‘Beyond the Orchard’ was delicious too. Who/ what really was in the ice house? Who is that person, how are they linked to this decades long tale? Loved it. Added intrigue and piqued my interest enough to have me reading into the wee hours to try and learn a little more.
I don’t know if the pace was too slow, or if I was just too greedy to know more as soon as possible. Tough call there, but speaks volumes for the quality of the mystery.
Would I recommend this book the others?
I think I would, though I would be warning them that I found the uncorrected ARC a bit of a jumble and hope the end result is of far better quality. I wouldn’t actually list the flaws as I have done here, merely warn them that I found it a bit of a mess but believe the published version will have sorted all that out.
Would I buy this book for myself?
As much as I enjoyed it, probably not. Really more of a ‘borrow from the library’ book for me. A little too literary fiction for me when I am more of a commercial fiction/ urban fantasy/ cosy crime collector.
In summary: the mystery and intrigue created within this book were highly enjoyable. I am just going to give Simon and Schuster the benefit of the doubt and assume the final version has had all the issues and flaws fixed up.
Until next time,