Review: The Uncertain Places by Lisa Goldstein

UncertainPlacesPublished by: Tachyon Publications
ISBN: 1616960140
ISBN 13: 9781616960148
Published: June 2011
Pages: 237
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended

‘The Uncertain Places’ by Lisa Goldstein is a modern (well, set in 1971 and after) fairytale set in America, involving the family Feierabend and their uncanny life of luck. When Will and his best friend Ben become involved in their lives, they are soon involved in unravelling the mystery that encases the family, especially when Livvy – Will’s girlfriend – falls to the fate that ensures the family’s luck will continue.
The book is clever in the little hints we see right from the very first pages, that all add up as the story progresses. The detail in the scenery and what life was like in those days paints a vivid picture, so those too young to know what happened in the 70s, and someone who’s never been to America before still gains an interesting perspective to their way of life, and the influences those times would have had on a person.

Some may view the characters as lacking depth, yet I took them on as characters I could place against people I know in my own life. Livvy’s annoying showy sister Maddie who’s ultimately good, their mother who’s a little whispery around the edges (and usually in the middle, too) and the younger sister you kind of forget about for a while – perhaps for too long.

The plot ultimately keeps you guessing and progresses the story quite quickly, even when time passes (as we see the characters from college through to their older years) but something must be said for how easily they do get out of seemingly impossibly situations. Reason is given, yet a little more despair or attempts would have made it feel the scene was more warranted, or perhaps if it had further replications in the future.

What is special about this book is the emotion and ‘feel’ it conveys, which made it hard to put down and certainly one of my favourite books of the year so far. It’s different to the majority what’s out there and caught me by surprise by eager I was to continue reading it. There are little issues here and there that I found easy to overlook (and not even notice while I was reading, and only took note of while scrolling through other reviews on GoodReads) but they did not take any enjoyment away from the story – moreso, I would be interested to hear what the author would say in response.

Ultimately, this book made me wish there was more of it, because I felt a certain kind of sadness when it was over, and still felt the need to pick it up and continue reading it for the rest of the day, and a few days after that. Lisa Goldstein has written a fairytale possibly in our modern world as many people have done so already, though she has done so with a certain voice and way of words. I’ll be looking out for her other work in the future.

This review was originally posted at SentientOnline on the 30th June 2012.


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