Where Honesty Never Ends.
Note: This work was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery
Very abbreviated blurb (For Full Blurb, visit Amazon): Three stories that span more than 150 years of American history, united by a shocking mystery. How far will those responsible go to keep their secrets buried?
Hello everyone. Thanks for stopping by The Review Board. Today, No Labels Unleashed and Mini Truth will share their thoughts on Quitting the Grave by Decater Collins. Opting to go first, The Unleashed One.
Out of all the books on my 2016 TRB Queue, Quitting the Grave was the one that I was looking the most forward to reading. First, you have the scenarios—missing corpses, feuding, and ruthless chasing of freedom.
Then, there’s a trailer for this book so expertly done, you would think it was advertising a movie series. All of the ingredients were there. What could possibly go wrong?
Quitting the Grave is a juggernaut of a read. In a world where the average reader wants you to get to the meat of the matter in a somewhat accelerated pace, Quitting the Grave could easily get lost in the shuffle.
However, I’m not an average reader. I have the unabridged version of Stephen King’s The Stand on my bookshelf and read it in a matter of just a few days.To me, it is not the length of the book—it is how expertly the tale is told. If the characters and action captivate a person, it doesn’t matter if a book is eighty-eight pages or eight hundred and eighty-eight. For when a book is outstanding, the word count does not matter.
To me, it is not the length of the book—it is how expertly the tale is told. If the characters and action captivate a person, it doesn’t matter if a book is eighty-eight pages or eight hundred and eighty-eight. For when a book is outstanding, the word count does not matter.
Yet, if a book is not so stellar, then the word count is one of the things which constitute a deterrent. One may end up counting the pages, even looking ahead and asking, “How much longer?”
Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me explain what this book did right.
Syntax-wise, I cannot find too much fault. Stylistically speaking, I do prefer quotation marks to be used in dialog. It is easier for me to keep track of who is saying what, as opposed to what the author did, which was use dashes. Also, when it was time to use the long dash (or the “em dash”), the author could not because he was using dashes to represent quotation marks. Eventually, my eyes got used to it but it did take a while.
The author went above and beyond when doing research. The details about Eugene, Fort Vancouver, and Fort Wayne were outstanding—from the setup, to the people, to the mannerisms. No one can say that this work was not well researched.
Now … back to the thick of it.
The best way to explain how Quitting the Grave got off track is this:
Imagine an archaeologist making a significant discovery in a cave. In his journal, instead of just jotting down what the discovery is, he talks about each step leading into making the discovery—
Now, at this juncture, one may even pipe out, “When in the hell does he ever get to the discovery? We just spent the past two hours reading about all of this preparation.”
That is the underlying angst with this book. Yes, it is complex. Yes, there is this interweaving and intensity of historical travesties. However, the mystery in conjunction to the wait was paramount to torture.
Furthermore, the way this was written struck me as “screenplay unrealized”. By that, I mean that it has all the ingredients to form a TV series on regular cable. However—because of the more graphic bits—more than likely, channels one would pay extra for. Easily, someone could take the historical bits and have them play out on the screen as an episode or two … or three … or five. Get my drift?
In its novel form, it was very exhausting for me to digest. I would have to rest, really drink in what the purpose of the chapter entailed, before resuming. It did not help that the chapters were long—not striking the right balance between past, present, or dialog.
Unleashed Verdict: 6 out of 10 TRB Stars (translates to 3 out of 5 elsewhere)
Overall, Quitting the Grave is a beautifully written book. For the historical fiction lovers out there with a bottomless well of patience, this may be a book to give their minds a much-needed workout.
As for me, I could go for a thirst quencher. For me, the “research gush” being too prevalent on the pages and the massive amount of time between build-up and the big reveal hindered this from ranking higher for me.
What is “Quitting the Grave”, you might ask?
HOWEVER, that doesn’t do much in telling you what the story is about, so let me get that out of the way first.
Bare with me, this might be a bit lengthy.
So, there is this lady named Caya Blumenshine who is a reporter for the local newspaper. Caya vividly paints a picture of her town, Eugene, Oregon as she questions anarchists, Wiccans, and politicians, until such time as her research comes across a secluded house on the outskirts of the city. Said house is owned by an Alexander Hilyard who hasn’t been seen in years and has been suspected of being involved in some grave robberies.
Somehow the story reverts back to two different times and occasions; Fort Vancouver in the 1830’s and Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1846. In “Quitting the Grave” you will find the magical powers of Native American influences alongside British Culture, all interweaved as part of the historical facet of the tale.
Threading together three storylines in the form of unearthing secrets, historical facts and suspicious occurrences, Caya finds out more than she could have expected.
That about covers it.
Now, on to my thoughts. Usually I do them in the form of Pros and Cons, but I think I’ll do this a little differently today.
When is too much, too much?
When, somewhere along the middle of a chapter, you have to go back and read it again—even though there are still about 45 minutes left to read in said chapter—just to refresh your memory about what’s going on.
When, you opt to start taking notes, because the vast degree of information that is given is akin to a Social Studies/History Text Book and you begin to feel like if you don’t take notes you’re going to fail the Pop Quiz.
When, just the thought of opening the book makes you fret because somewhere along the middle point of the story you have forgotten what the story is even about and you REALLY don’t feel like having to start over again.
When, the main character’s name is lost in the shuffle somewhere because the author is too busy giving every single tidbit of unwanted information of the whos, whats, hows and whens, that you’ve forgotten her name.
I kept thinking to myself, “WHEN is it gonna end?”
I think I need to rewind just for a second.
When I was first presented with the book as an assignment, I was excited. The premise seemed alluring enough. I DO LOVE history, after all. The book trailer was the bomb! Suffice it to say that I was all in. All year, I waited with eagerness to open this book up. The size was of little consequence, for I was sure that with a blurb and trailer such as it had, this book was going to be worth the read. I was ready for it.
Then … I opened it.
Well, call me old school … it’s okay. I’m used to it.
But, I am.
I could not deal with dashes being used instead of quotation marks. It confused the heck outta me. The worst part of it was that fact that I was mentally editing those dashes to quotation marks as I went along. And then, on parts that needed EM Dashes, which were replaced by various other punctuations, I was editing that too. Suffice it to say, NO FUN, Caballero.“Whodunit”, seriously?
Sorry for the sarcasm, I can’t help it. I HAVE to roll my eyes at the “mystery” aspect of the story. WHY? Well, because I was too busy trying to keep up with all of the other hoopla, that I scarcely had the opportunity to bask in the so-called mystery part.
But, it is more than that.
Imagine you are reading a mystery story and in said book, you are presented with an EXPLANATION FOR EVERYTHING and ABOUT EVERYTHING. Does that rightfully constitute the book as a mystery? No, of course not. Just something to think about it.
Syntax was good, other than those pesky dashes. What good is good writing when the story is boring?
The main character wasn’t very likable. As a matter of fact, she came off very uninterested and detached to the point of being blasé.
Let me sum this up.
While the writing was good, the research was obviously well executed and the historical element very present, there were three very big faults with this book that I just could not overlook.
With that said, I give “Quitting the Grave” a 5.5 TRB Stars. I’m sorry, it just wasn’t for me.
Thank you, No Labels and Mini Truth. Let’s go ahead and sum up these ratings. It looks like “Quitting the Grave” has acquired a total of 6 TRB Stars.
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