I was provided a copy of this book through Goodreads’ READ IT AND REAP program in exchange for my fair and honest review. I thank the author for providing me with this opportunity.
Silver Hollow is the story of Amie (aka Jessamiene, aka Jessie) as she discovers her real land of birth and magic heritage. While I found high positives, I also found fairly significant negatives with Silver Hollow. So as to end on a high note in this review, I will begin with the issues I had that really made this a 3-star book for me.
My opening sentence identified one of the issues that I had with this read—and that is with how often a single person or type of people was known by two, or even three, names. Amie is Jessamiene, is Jessie, and so forth. For this reader, the constant change of names made the story difficult to follow. A directly related issue was the use of made up terms. Oddly, this is both a positive and a negative point for Silver Hollow. As I am addressing the down-sides for starters, I will add here that it took some figuring to decipher these coined terms. I could have looked at the end for a glossary at the outset, but by the time I realized it was there, I had already spent some time trying to read beyond them. . . .
There were some editing issues, which for the most part I was able to overlook. They do make for funny lines, such as “She had always been a scrawny thing ever since she was born.” Yes, “always” would mean that there had never been a time when she had not been scrawny, in which case, she would have been scrawny since birth. Or: “Rather than seeing the beginnings of endless heather-swept moors, stout trees hugged the road instead.” Had the author meant to remove the word “instead” since that is already implied by the use of “rather” at the beginning of the sentence? Even so, these errors are not a big deal. They happen.
By contrast, I find issues of grammar more difficult because they make me stop each time to make sure that I am understanding the author’s intention—or because they simply sound odd to my ear. I confess that I have only recently realized that I was such a stickler for grammar—still, good grammar makes for easy reading. Examples of issues I found included things like the occasional incorrect use of “which” for “that.” Another example is when the author would end a sentence with a preposition such as “Amie jerked out of the haze her thoughts had fallen into.”
There was some verb confusion and misuse of verbs. For example, consider the sentence: “. . . and the longer Henry took, the more fearful she was he might try and jump.” The verb here is “to jump,” not “and jump.” Or this: “By now Underhill knew better than to try and pull Amie out of one of her moods.” Again, the verb is “to pull” not “and pull.” (I will say that people tend to make this kind of error when they speak. Unfortunately, I am finding it creep into writing more and more frequently. . . .)
There are many, many references to pop culture, movies (old and new), movie stars and characters. I think I caught most of them—maybe even all of them—and some of them were charming. However, for those readers not so keen to the shows, movies and so forth, some portion of the story would certainly be lost. Just a few examples of these references include, Jack Sparrow, Deliverance, “a vampire-loving awkward chick with a marble fetish,” Ginger Rogers, Spice Girls, Sean Connery, Errol Flynn, D’Artagnan, a “Jedi mind trick,” Rain Man, Rambo, and many, many more. One of the reasons I mention this is that the intended audience seems to be YA or perhaps NA, yet many in these age groups would not recognize a good number of these references.
As to the relationships in Silver Hollow, I admit that I was not convinced. The one that troubled me most was the central relationship to the story, namely Amie’s relationship with Uncle Henry. At the outset she wants nothing to do with him, then on a whim decides to travel to see him, and then within mere days, does not want him to leave her when he goes away for a few days because she has become so attached to him. (Hmmmm.) Another relationship I had issues with was between Amie and Morcant Hogswillow. On the word of others, Amie does not even want to meet the widow, then bristles each time the widow is around, but in the end, the widow is a central figure for helping Amie and Amie does not really question that fact. Finally, for those who want love triangles, the story does include one—but I was not convinced that Amie was really emotionally attached to either Emrys or Dearg —they both just happened to be there.
On numerous occasions, I was confused by what was happening in a scene. For example, when the cook and Underhill are mixing their magic in the kitchen, it took some time for me to figure out what was happening.
All that said, there were two very good things about Silver Hollow. The first is that the author shows great imagination. The trick for her will be to translate what she sees into words that help me to see the same things.
Finally, it must be said that from time to time, Silver Hollow delivered some unique and imaginative word pictures. Here are just a few examples:
He grabbed the hold of a nearby candelabrum as they passed its oak perch and turned to hold out a proffered arm. (An oak “perch” for a candelabrum. How charming.)
Really, with drool on the side of her face, curls a bushy nest around her head. (“[D]rool on the side of her face” made me laugh.)
They’re simply a hashout-out of your thoughts, a mental throw-up of your subconscious. (A “mental throw-up” makes for an interesting word picture. . . . )
Her eyes misted over in their new annoying habit. (An great way to describe Amie’s frequent crying.)
In the past, Amie had gotten pretty decent at making a stumble resemble a modern dance move. (Many readers will readily identify with Amie here. . . .)
She awoke to the rain begging loudly to be let inside. (Funny.)
Slaine called out to the growing puddle of people. (I found a “puddle of people” to be quite creative.)
He puffed on his pipe, smoke filling the space between them in thick ginger-scented clouds. (I like the “ginger-scented clouds.” I can see and smell them!)
Finally, I will end nearly where I started. The author made common usage of made-up words. While annoying when I could not figure them out (as I kept thinking I had missed something), they did help to build a genuinely unique alternative world. Examples of some of these fun (though at times frustrating) words include: nixy, krumplekined, epperchips, flobbergidits, wicklewashers and mushrattling.
All told, there were difficulties with this read, but the author shows a great imagination and the beginnings of her own unique writing voice.
Keep at it Jennifer!
Visit Jennifer Silverwood and learn more about Silver Hollow, here (at Goodreads).