Title: The Forever Girl
Author: Rebecca Hamilton
Publisher: Immortal Ink Publishing, LLC, 2012
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What a refreshing story so far as the traditional fare in paranormal romance goes. And for once a heroine who isn’t simply a damsel in distress, but who takes her fate into her own hands. Sophia offers readers a fascinating character who, quite clearly, is knowledgeable in her field of expertise. And hell, it’s great to see a main character who is a witch who doesn’t just click her fingers to bend reality to her will.
Although Hamilton treats the standard tropes of shapeshifters and vampires, she does a good job establishing an alternative history. In my opinion, her milieu is a lot more interesting than its closest literary relative, which is Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight universe.
Those who enjoyed the type of dynamics they found with Bella/Edward, will most likely latch onto the Sophia/Charles dynamics, and there are some pretty scenes that are well described. One of my favourite lines from Charles is: “You must understand: immortality is not an escape from death. It’s an accumulation of loss.”
All this being said, however, I do have some issues with the novel. First off, there were often moments where I’d have liked characters’ motivations to be expressed better. Sometimes some pretty crazy stuff happens, and Sophia takes these occurrences almost too calmly. Pacing also needed a bit of attention. Quite a bit of time is compressed in the novel, which is often tricky to keep the narrative flowing, and there are occasions when the story flags. By contrast, in some of the scenes where a lot of action suddenly takes place, Hamilton writes too quickly, and I had to sometimes go back to reread a few paragraphs to let things sink in. A little more layering would have helped. In addition, I feel there are story arcs which are very promising (for instance the crazy religious fundamentalist lady and Sophia’s best friend) which could have been elaborated on.
Often I felt the story was headed in a particular direction, only to have that potential plot fizzle out when it could have been used to ramp up tension. Only one serious factual glitch caught my eye: the case of a photograph taken of people who supposedly died in the 1600s. Daguerreotypes were only really in common use in the mid-1800s, so unless this was a bit of supernatural tech unique to The Forever Girl universe, chances were extremely slim of such an artefact existing. I also felt the convenient availability of silver doorknobs at the local small-town hardware store to stretch reality just a wee bit for a too-convenient plot angle. But hey, maybe that’s me, and I’m not always a fan of characters having things too easy.
All the flaws notwithstanding, this is still a very promising story I’d happily recommend above traditionally published mainstream offerings in the same genre. (And some of these authors honestly did make me want to throw the book across the train.) Hamilton writes with a fresh voice, bringing her unique spin to a genre that is often highly reliant on derivative works.