Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Review: Within the Dark Hills by Sian Ann Bessey (Whitney Finalist)

Title: Within the Dark Hills
Author: Sian Ann Bessey
Enjoyment Rating: **
Whitney Finalist
This book would be rated: PG

What are the chances that of the five books in the historical fiction category, two would be romances involving a Welsh miner who lost his wife during the birth of their first daughter? While Within the Dark Hills and My Loving Vigil Keeping have very different stories, and I actually really like the plot twist that Annie and Evan marry shortly after meeting each other, at the urging of the Reverend Davies, I feel like Within the Dark Hills suffers from the comparison.

As a reader, the main drawback of Within the Dark Hills is that everything happens so quickly. Annie and Evan meet, and within a couple of days, they're married. Then things are supposed to be awkward for them as they grow to love each other, and Bessey tries to show the awkwardness, but at the same time, only a few weeks elapse before they're madly in love with each other, which didn't feel very realistic. Evan's sister comes to accept Annie with similar speed, and their conversion to the gospel and move to America (sorry, I'm a spoiler) also happens precipitously. I feel that Within the Dark Hills would have benefited from being twice as long and from taking the plot developments a bit more slowly.

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