Monday, April 22, 2013

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand

I found this book at my local library on the New Books shelf in the children’s department. The cover looked promising, so I grabbed it, along with a bagful of others, and carried it home. I’m one of those readers that rarely takes the time to read the back blurb on a book. I’m usually in a hurry to finish my errands when I make a trip to town, so I browse through books rather quickly, and when I see a cover that catches my attention, I snap it up. If I don’t care for the beginning of the book, I often toss it aside and move on to the next one in my TBR pile.

This book came dangerously close to getting tossed into the “not worth the time” pile. (It isn’t actually a pile, because I almost NEVER leave a book unfinished. But it does happen, and this one just barely missed it.

Admittedly, the first paragraph hooked my attention. A young girl admits that she only has one true friend, and now he has gone missing. Sounds like a promising read. But then, I have to admit, nearly sixty pages of minutia follows that came extremely close to boring me to tears.

The MC of this story is totally unlikable. It’s a no-brainer why she has no friends. She has no redeeming qualities to attract other young people. She uses her one friend, Lawrence, as a project. Since she’s so boringly perfect, why shouldn’t she help him achieve that same state? blah, blah, blah. I hated her. She whined, preened, gagged me with a spoon through three chapters.

But underlying all this nothingness, are hints of something wicked permeating the town and its residents. Slowly this evil seeps into the storyline, and our MC begins to pick up on the weirdness.

Next the book takes us on a bizarre and grotesque ride that will freak out any young reader and probably leave him with nightmares for months to come. I envy Ms. Legrand for her superb imagination and the skill with which she weaves the details and the characters into this morbid thriller.

I began to realize after I finished this book that the MC was the perfect choice for this story. I wonder if she could have been any different in her attitude or self-image and pulled it off. Kudos to her for a job very well done. I look forward to future books from her, although I’m not sure my nerves, or my stomach, can handle them. (I will only say here, wait until you meet the Gofers.)

If you love terrifying, gross, nightmare-inducing books, written in a style that will eventually suck you in, then this is a book you won't want to miss.  


Cordelia Dinsmore


Sharon Ledwith said...

I applaud you on sticking with the book. Sometimes back story can drag, and if you're not like the main character then that's a struggle. I wonder what was going on in the author's head. I'm glad you ended up liking Claire Legrands's book! Tweeted and shared, girl!

Cordelia Dinsmore said...

Thanks for commenting, Sharon. One thing I seldom do is read the back blurb - it's just something I prefer not to do for some weird reason. But the first paragraph was very strong, so I couldn't stop believing that there had to be something good hidden here. But I can't help but wonder how many young readers will stay with it since it starts out so slowly. We're so often told to weave the backstory in a little at a time.

I'm just glad to see, once again, that you can break the rules and still come out with a great read. It really was a lot of fun.

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