Thursday, July 7, 2011

Distant Waves: A Novel of the Titanic

Distant Waves: A Novel of the Titanic is a YA supernatural historical novel by Suzanne Weyn.

Being the daughter of a famed clairvoyant isn't always a dream come true. This becomes more and more apparent to Jane as she and her four sisters grow up in the town of Spirit Vale, a place where their mother settled them at the turn of the twentieth century. The town is entirely inhabited by spiritualists, believers, and the tourists who come in seeking answers. When she was young, Jane was convinced of her mother's abilities - but her older, beautiful sister Mimi thinks otherwise. The twins, Emma and Amelie, further complicate matters by seeming to be the next in line to set up shop, since their strange bond and seemingly psychic connections hearkens to an inheritance of "the gift". But the youngest, Blythe, really couldn't care less - she just wants to be famous.

Jane just doesn't know. As she nears 1912 at almost seventeen, she tries not to worry much about what she believes to be true or not, but lets herself be caught up in the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and her impossible dreams of being a writer. But it seems her interest in the genius Nikola Tesla will bring Jane her own adventures - adventures that turn terrifying as the Taylor sisters, the famed inventor, and the great luxury ship Titanic converge fates...

My synopsis of Distant Waves feels weak to me, probably because the novel is so multilayered. I only want to give away so much, as it is full of unexpected twists from beginning to end.

And what a beginning it is! We start off in the middle of one of Jane's mother's seances, in which she was still pregnant with Blythe and all the other girls are very young. It is creepy and ghostly right off the bat! But instead of trying to be a ghost story, Suzanne Weyn brings to us an interesting, compelling tale of coming-of-age among the early 1900s fascination with spiritualism, with a medium as a mother. The question of whether or not her mother is a fraud is constantly intriguing - adding yet another human layer to the fascinating, page-turning book Distant Waves ended up being.

Jane is an excellent character to follow, quieter and more in the background among her more vivacious or odd sisters. The historical details vibrate to the point of feeling like you're there, without filling too many pages with paragraphs of mindless description. There is a strangeness, a wonder, that comes from Jane's unorthodox upbringing and the question of: are ghosts real or is it all a con?

There are revelations involving almost ever character in Distant Waves that are surprising and done with a surprisingly delicate tone. Suzanne Weyn presents identity issues, the pain of family love, and a sisterly bond that bends so much you wonder if it'll break. It is jarring, compelling, and wholly original!

Distant Waves gives us an entirely new story involving the Titanic tragedy that makes it something entirely romantic, heartbreaking, unabashedly spooky, frantically scary as it reaches the depths of survival, and an amazing read!!! I look forward to reading this intelligent novel again!

A great read!

***BIBLIOPHILE ALERT! I have been reading like an even crazier book addict than usual this year, and apparently three reviews a week can't keep up pace with me! Because of this, for the entire month of July I will be having FIVE reviews a week! That's right! Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday! So, please remember to check back here more often during July - and come August I'm planning on returning to three reviews a week. Keep the schedule change in mind, and don't miss any reviews! :)

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