Book Review - Revenants by Scott Kauffman
I began reading Revenants by Scott Kauffman while on vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with my family over the holidays and finished it on the flight home. I had a hard time getting into this book at first. The story wasn’t drawing me in, I found my mind wandering as I read, and the writing style took some getting used to. When I’m on vacation, especially, I usually prefer to read page-turners (mysteries, for example) or something light and entertaining (like chick lit.) But now that I have a book review website, I have a schedule to maintain so I brought along this book because it was the next on my to-read list.
On the other hand, there were parts of the book I really enjoyed. You know how much I love historical fiction and this book provided a double-dose. One story line took place during WWI and the other story line took place in the 70s/80s. After the death of her brother in the Vietnam War, Betsy was struggling in school and was assigned to volunteer at a VA hospital to compensate for her lack of effort and focus during the academic year. While there, she discovers a secret patient kept separate from the rest of the patients at the hospital. Her curiosity is aroused and despite repeated warnings to leave well enough alone, she begins to communicate with the patient and investigate his back story. The reader learns about the patient’s story as he reveals it to Betsy and her younger brother Barthalamew. We know he is a WWI veteran, but how did he end up at this hospital and why does no one know his name?
For a good portion of the beginning of the book, the story took place primarily in the 70s and 80s and the book cover was driving me nuts (it is the fashion historian in me) because the fashion illustrated on the cover was clearly not from the 70s or 80s. (Another notoriously bad book cover was The Paris Wife - which takes place primarily in the 20s but clearly had a 1940s dress on the cover - ugh!) Eventually, though, the WWI story line began to develop and I better understood the cover. Still, that wasn’t the primary plot line so I would have liked a cover that better illustrated the story.
As much as I enjoyed the creativity of the story line and was eager to find out how it ended, there were parts of the book that were way too detailed and didn’t seem to move the plot along and other parts that skipped large gaps in time and left me wondering what happened. I had a hard time believing the voice of the main character - she didn’t sound like someone from the 70s or 80s and had a lot of goofy sayings that didn’t seem authentic to the character. With that being said, I did end up empathizing with her so I guess that means the character development worked in that way.
Overall, I liked the book. It was a good read and the story was different enough to be interesting. I’m always so impressed by anyone who is able to sit down and write a book - I struggle just to write these blog posts so I have a tremendous amount of respect for all authors…amateurs and bestsellers alike. It is no easy feat to develop a story that intrigues, excites, and comes together at the end in a believable way. I’m so grateful to Scott Kauffman for trusting me to read his book. Stay tuned on Thursday for my interview with him!
To buy Revenants from Subterranean Books based out of St. Louis, click the book cover below.
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