Where Honesty Never Ends.
Greetings! The Review Board here to share its take on Cossacks in Paris by Jeffrey Perren. To give her thoughts, the Unleashed one.
The best approach with this work is to break down what I see as the pros and cons and expand on each.
At the beginning of Cossacks in Paris, there were quite a few characters that signified more than met the eye. Agripin was one of them–he was painted out as not the typical Cossack. Breutier was another–with his innovations and his disdain against Napoleon’s tirade. I was even drawn to the hinted differences between the twins Kaarina and Kaisa. As the meat of the tale (the love story of Kaarina and Breutier and the war) started unfolding, the additional building of these layers were halted.
As a reader, I missed out on the opportunity to fully connect with the characters the way that I desired. Although Agripin was painted as someone that should be hated by all, I couldn’t help but feel that he was misunderstood–that he wasn’t all brute but because of his circumstances he had to revert fully to the barbaric tendencies of the Cossack. Breutier is said to have a brilliant mind, but in so many situations, he behaved stupidly, making me not fully taken by his original depiction. I wanted further information on the bond of Kaarina and Kaisa prior to the story to get full understanding of how two identical twins could truly be so different, yet the waves of war and plot left me at a huge disconnect.
For me, I have to find a character or set of characters (whether it’s the main or supplemental) whose situation I care about. If I cannot find that, then it hurts the tide of the story for me.
For those who believe in love at first sight, this may work. For me, there was just not enough growth in their meeting for this to resonate. At least not in the way it was written. If the dialogue and passion between these two was conveyed as expertly as the war and the suffering of the people during the seasons, then it would be a definite win. Yet the brief blocks of dialogue between these two lacked the intensity I’d expect from two people who couldn’t stand to be without each other and who would willingly die rather than to be with someone else. Let the characters do the work, I say!
There wasn’t enough balance between narrative and dialogue, especially when the main characters were interacting with each other. In my opinion, there were spots where it would have served the author better to build up the characters’ dynamics that to put in even more narrative. With this imbalance in place, it caused the pace to become sluggish and too much space between elements of conflict.
In some areas, I had to wonder how much time had taken place between chapters, even reread to make certain that I had the time frame correct.
At points where the author should have taken his time and gone into more detail (the love story, the relationship with the twins, the not-so-typical Cossack Agripin, etc.), it was too accelerated.
Other points not related to the characters but more focused on just setting location felt a bit lethargic and should have been toned down or eliminated.
I don’t want to give away too much of the story, so I’m going to try and explain this last point as best I can without doing so.
Scenario: Let’s say Amber has this book that was promised to Charlie but because Amber doesn’t like the way Charlie treats book she decides to let Phillip to have the book. Charlie finds out and decides to take the book before Phillip can get his hands on it. Phillip gets close to having the book but Charlie finds a way to keep it from him. One day, Phillip takes advantage of Charlie and finally gets the literature in his possession only to lose custody of said book a bit later. Then, Charlie comes up with another way to obtain the publication…
Get the drift?
I found myself wondering why the author chose to repeat the scenario so many times. If he had cut down on a scene or two, as well as condensed the lengthy accounts in regards to setting and narrative, he could have easily shaved about one hundred to one hundred and fifty pages and still could have had the story needed and the resolution desired. It would have decreased the dead zones that made the reader wonder if some more conflict/action would ever arrive. Plus, it would have made going from chapter to chapter a lot easier.
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