Book Review: The Steep & Thorny Way

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Synopsis from Amazon:

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Amulet Books. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on March 8, 2016.*

In all honesty I’m always hesitant to read books about a person of color written by a white person and historical fiction isn’t really my genre but this book interested me so I gave it a try.

It was slow in the beginning and it took me a little while to get into but I’d say about 40 pages in the pace picked up. I either forgot or skipped over the part of the blurb that mentioned this was inspired by Hamlet but I immediately got that vibe and because of that I thought I knew what was going to happen. I was worried this book would be very predictable but as the book went along the author, Cat Winters, hit me with more twists and surprises. Some I began to suspect as I read but others really took me by surprise.

I also really enjoyed the relationship between Hannalee and Joe, the suspected murderer of Hannalee’s father. Their relationship, at least to me, seems to teeter the line between just friends and more than friends, which is interesting once you learn more about Joe.

Over all, I think Winters did well with this novel. She definitely did her research and I liked how she touched on a lot of issues in just one book. One thing I could’ve done without was the pictures between chapters. If there were just a few photos at the end to show the history of everything that would’ve been cool but having the images between every few chapters didn’t really add anything for me.

I’d say this book is definitely worth a read. The ghost story and mystery aspect made this book way more interesting, as did the relationship between Joe and Hannalee. Although I’m not sure how it’d be done I’d be interested in a sequel to this novel. I want to know what happens to the characters next. Even so, I think this book had a satisfying ending so I’m fine with this being a stand alone. But if Winters wants to throw us another book and make this a series I wouldn’t mind.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!


3 stars

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