Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review Wednesday| "The Aquatic Labyrinth: A Venetian Mystery" by Alastair Fontana

I'm back with another review! This week's book, as you can tell from the post title, is "The Aquatic Labyrinth" by Alastair Fontana which I downloaded at the end of January when if was available for free download on Amazon. However, there is also a giveaway currently being held on Goodreads for a paperback copy if you missed the chance to download it.

Before I go into any details, here is the description courtesy of the book's Goodreads page: Jacopo came back home, he could not have ever imagined that in a few hours he would have found himself running for his life across the most mesmerizing maze ever built, Venice. He would have never believed he would be dragging himself like a wounded animal, breathless and clueless through the alleys and across the canals of the city, desperately trying to extricate a murder he did not commit, to find the key of the mysterious labyrinth of events he had entered without even noticing.

I gave the book 3 of 5 stars on goodreads and rather enjoyed the storyline, however, there are a few small things to be aware of.
The writing takes a little while to get used to if you read it in ebook format. Some chapters are told from a first person perspective, while others are told from various third person points of view- the switch between them can take some time to get used to. In fact, the first roughly 10% or so of the book is written in a sort of choppy action sequence that left me a little confused- like I had missed the first bit of the story. Everything is eventually explained, but until then, it will seem as if the story is incomplete.
I also noticed that the story would slip into flashbacks without much warning and the dialogue narration tended to be formed of long passages without breaks that would bring more realism to the characters' story telling and would help keep readers from potentially forgetting a flashback was taking place.
Other than that, there were some small inconsistencies that were most likely editing slips: characters remembered events that they hadn't actually witnessed according to the timeline, the dialogue is sometimes written in a way that makes the identity of the speaker confusing to the reader, and some character details change (for example, the amount of children one of the character has changes from four to three). Also, there is italian in this book. Poems that are written in old italian that resembles more latin than the modern language (which fits the time period, but can be confusing to readers who don't know the language) and sparse words that personally kept some of the story from flowing smoothly- though that is mostly just a personal preference of mine.
Ultimately, I enjoyed the storyline and the different points of view let you see more of Venice- even the different storylines seem a little confusing. It's a quick read and I would recommend it- primarily if you love stories about or inspired by the Venetian history and culture. Keep in mind that the story at times reads like a draft, and while there are some stumbling blocks there aren't so many that they distract greatly from the storyline.

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