Content warning: Rape, Abuse (physical and sexual), Incest?, Suicide, Self-Harm
I read this book several months ago and never got around to reviewing it. (I thought I did but apparently not) I still think about it on occasion so it apparently left an impression on me. Though I am no entirely sure it was a good impression. Warning; there are spoilers ahead though I will try to keep them to a minimum.
The story follows three narrations. One is from the female half of a pair of twins, Joseph and Sophie Hannigan. (random unrelated fact but my mother’s maiden name, Hennigan, is a form of Hannigan, the family changed it when they came over from Ireland for some reason. I think it is because they low key were a bunch of criminals.) The Twins are on the run from New York and have chosen to come to Venice to launch the brother’s career in art. His sister acts as his muse and there is some weird sexual tension there though nothing happens beyond him drawing her naked a lot. (Which is totally weird, right?) Another narrative follows a man, Nicholas Dane, who is the search for a woman named Odilé Leon, from whom our third narrative follows. Odilé is a sort of vampire who feeds on peoples’ talents. She inspires them to one great work and then they either kill themselves are go mad. It’s a concept I haven’t come across at least. Anyways, Nicholas is after her because a while back they had a brief affair and she stole his talent. (Apparently she can sustain herself on lesser talents between feasting on a large talent every seven years or so.) He wants to stop her from doing it to other people, because he is a bitter busybody. Anyway all the narratives meet up in Venice where Odilé is on the hunt for a large talent, which Joseph has and Nicholas is trying to prevent from happening. Sophia meanwhile is caught up in the middle trying to save her brother, and I was just really glad when this book came to an end.
I started and stopped this book several times before I gritted my teeth and actually forced myself to finish it. The reason why I had such a hard time getting into this book is that it switches perspectives and worse, it does so in first person. This is especially bad at the beginning because the perspectives tend to switch more often (the beginning chapters are shorter). You barely have time to settle into one perspective before you have to adjust to a whole new narrative. It gets better as the book progresses and the narratives intertwine more closely.
My main objection to this book was the content rather than the actual writing, barring the above objection. The characters are interesting and developed well with their past being revealed in a natural way that doesn’t break up the flow. If you can get past the first few chapters, the narrative switches become less jarring. The plotline is interesting and the climax and conclusion satisfying. Still I didn’t like this book. The depictions of suicide, abuse, self-harm and the implied sexual tension between the twins all put me off.
In the end I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars because it is a well written book but I simply didn’t care for the subject matter. If you are cool with that kind of stuff though, give it a read.