April 18, 2016

Fresh From the Bookshelf: Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden {Book Review}

I think the reason I like historical fiction so much, is that it lets me explore eras of history through a window. I get to be "there" and to get a taste of what it might have been like. I have always been fascinated by the past, which is why history is my most favorite subject and my preferred genre when it comes to books. Elizabeth Camden is one of the best authors when it comes to historical fiction, and I am always eager to dive into her next book. Her latest book Until the Dawn appealed to me with its setting (Hudson River Valley), and the era--early 1900's. I hoped that it would be yet another hit!

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About the Book

The main characters for this story are Sophie van Riijn and Quentin Vandermark and it's set in early 1900's in the Hudson River Valley. Sophie is a young lady from the town who has been using the impressive and uninhabited Vandermark mansion for
her secret rooftop weather station for the just beginning Weather Bureau. She has been using it for quite awhile, when the owners
of Vandermark suddenly show up--and with a shocking announcement--the mansion is going to be torn down. 

The announcement immediately sets at odds our main characters--Sophie needs this building because it's the only place in town tall enough for her set up--and her work is very important. The antagonist comes in the form of Quentin Vandermark, who is determined to destroy this mansion and property that has been nothing but trouble for their family--and who is furious at Sophie for trespassing! But help comes in the form of Quentin's young troubled son, who only Sophie seems to be able to reach...is there a hope in Sophie that might spread to the entire family?!

My Thoughts on the Book

Until the Dawn actually has a prequel Toward the Sunrise (free for Kindle!), that though isn't necessary, definitely is worth the read, as it sets up the story and plot for Until the Dawn. I don't think it's necessary to read it first--but it does give you a bit MORE information about some of the characters mentioned.

An interesting subplot in the book, is the exploration of science vs. superstition. It was interesting to see how the author discusses the way people believed in ancient superstitions, and how others explained things away with scientific methodology. There is a challenge in the book that pits these views against each other with very interesting results.

To me, Quentin was like the dark broody Mr. Darcy who looked at everything through a glass half empty and cracked. It got rather annoying actually--but I know that the author was exploring the realm of depression during the early 1900's and how it was treated. In contrast, Sophie is like this ray of sunshine that never knows a gray day and is that Pollyanna personality that annoys oh so many people in real life--but didn't seem to annoy anyone except Quentin in this book. They were definitely designed to be opposite sides of the coin, but unlike many of the other characters from books by Camden--these two didn't seem to really go well together. In real life, they probably would have driven each other mad.

The setting was one that I don't know a lot about, so I enjoyed researching a bit more about it when I was done. The same is true of the beginning of the Weather Bureau--how many times do we forget that the groups like that had beginnings and haven't always existed?

The plot was good, the characters had depth, the language was vivid, and the story kept my attention. It wasn't my favorite by Elizabeth Camden--the couple just didn't seem to have the zip and zing together that others of her characters have.

I still recommend it to any Elizabeth Camden lovers--and to any just getting started with her books. She has a depth and detail in her writing that makes it a level above others. The books are not frothy, nor are they light reads. The characters have inner demons they fight with--(figuratively of course)--just like any normal person.
Until the Dawn
by Elizabeth Camden
Available as Kindle and Paperback

Professional Reader
Here are some more books by Elizabeth Camden for you to check out!

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