“Eventually all stories must be told. People simply aren’t built to hold them in. …. [It’s a] matter of finding the right person to tell it to. Since a story, even a sad one, is a gift.” (p. 417-418, ARC edition – may vary from the final published version.)
It may seem odd that I’m starting this review with a quote from the second to last chapter of the novel. And although the quote refers to a minor subplot, the truth of it really resonated with me and sums up my feelings about this superbly written book about impossible love and unimaginable loss.
But basic plot before I go any further – NYC transplant Candice (known as Dice in the nickname-loving, cookie-cutter Connecticut community of Swoon) meets 18th century transplant Sinclair (known as Sin, because he sins with abandon and causes others to sin as well) when he possesses the body of her hot but prissy cousin Penelope (known as Pen because …err… elope would sound weird?). Sin was strung-up by Swoon’s denizens’ snobby ancestors, so he’s out to get revenge. Only Dice is aware of what he’s capable of, but swept up in the spell of his charm, she’s very reluctant to stop him…
I really did feel like this story is a gift – and judging by the polarizing reviews on GoodReads and across the blogosphere – it’s one that’s not right for everyone. I can understand that some readers are turned off by the all “lustful” scenes Sin leaves in his wake, but these are strictly dreamlike in quality (think Patrick Susskind’s THE PERFUME), and in no way explicit or eyeball scalding.
Ok, I’ll allow that the paranormal plot is rather convoluted and does tend to meander at times, but the writing is so stellar, I honestly didn't mind the detours. I took a week to read this, not only because I had only stolen moments to devote to it, but also because I wanted to savor Malkin’s delicious turns of phrase. The story is told in first person, and Dice is so wry in her observations and so conflicted in her loyalties and desires I found myself identifying with her (despite our differences). I don’t know…maybe you have to have a certain maturity level (and I'm not talking about age, though this is more appropriate for older teens), and/or a certain familiarity with tragedy, to really connect with this one. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and not only will it stay on my shelf, I know I’ll go back and read passages from it again and again.
SWOON was released last week in hardcover. Visit the author at http://www.ninamalkin.com/