Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Goat Woman of Largo Bay by Gillian Royes

The Goat Woman of Largo Bay: A Novel

The Goat Woman of Largo Bay wants to be the first book in a mystery series when it grows up.   I'm not sure it's quite there yet.  There really isn't a lot of mystery in this book.  The mystery plot is quite predictable and was really not much of a mystery.  Although the "goat woman" didn't turn out to be what I had initially envisioned when I read the title of this novel.

That said, there is much to like about this novel.  The setting of Jamaica is unusual in a main stream novel.  It also happens to be one of my favorite places on earth!  The author, Gillian Royes (who grew up in Jamaica) captures the unique flavor of the island perfectly.  Shad, the bartender, has great potential as a character in future novels.  Royes managed to avoid the stereotype of the island bartender as she developed the character of  Shad. We learn about has past mistakes and meet his family. He embodies the beautiful spirit of the Jamaica people that I find almost more attractive than  the scenery of the island. I'd like to see him play a big part in future novels.

The other characters in this book did not captivate me as much as Shad.  They seemed more one dimensional and I wasn't as invested in their stories.  I did not understand the attraction between Eric, the expat and Simone, the goat woman.  I think with more developed characters, it might work.  I just didn't "know" either of them well enough  to make it a plausible relationship.

I would like to know more about the mysterious character of the Obeah man.   He seemed to be a mix of holistic healer, village shaman and local witch doctor, complete with potions and spells.  "Obeah" is an actual Jamaican practice of the occult arts, if I understand it correctly.  He is another character I would love to read about in future books.

This is also a story about grief and how one woman finds her own path through the process.  This aspect of the book was well done.  Royes managed to capture the despair of grief and the feelings of isolation that Simone encountered and her personal journey to let go and move on with her life.

Even with it's flaws, I can recommend this novel.  I look forward to seeing what the series grows up to be!

Thanks to the author and publisher for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review of this work.

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