Okay, I know. I KNOW. It’s been waaaaay too long. Mea culpa, guilt, shame, etc etc. Let’s just say that I’ve been in more of a destructive frame of mind than a creative one. And I’ve been reading a lot of crap books that were pretty crappy but actually not crappy enough because I didn’t even hate them enough to blog about them. It’s quite a feat on their part, actually. True ambivalence is hard to come by. Throw in familial fueds, betrayals, and intrigues that would impress a Borgia, angry dancing, stubborn writer’s block, bored dancing, one failed attempt to infiltrate a gypsy punk rock god’s tour bus, sad dancing, and a whole lot of unemployed napping (which, FYI, is even more pathetic than employed napping), and you’ve got some idea of how I’ve been, er, ‘occupying’ myself since my last post.
But, thank the book gods, I’ve finally read a book that’s sparked my interest. To the book depository!
Drum roll and whatnot. It’s Stef Penney’s The Invisible Ones.
Let’s do the synopsis dance: Ray is a private investigator specializing in revealing the futility of love by catching cheating spouses. He’s going through the motions, unable to overcome his own failed marriage, when Leon Wood, an English Roma, waltzes in to his office and demands that Ray, as a half-Roma himself, find Leon’s daughter, Rose, who’s been missing for seven years. Ray begins investigating Rose’s in-laws, the eccentric (even for Roma, and that’s saying something, believe me) Janko clan, convinced that Rose may have met an untimely end at the hands of her husband, Ivo.
And then shit gets weird. So weird, in fact, that I cannot reveal anymore plot details, because this is a straight-up MYSTERY, and anything else I say will totally spoil it for you. But let me tell you, people, this book will crack through your ribs, reach into your guts, and clench your beating heart in its booky hands, and it will not let go until you get to the last page. And this is not hyperbole! I am serious! I LITERALLY did not stop reading this book until I finished it. FOR REAL. I would not use caps lock and lie to you.
This book is pretty awesome, in case you didn’t get that. Besides being about Roma (yay) and portraying them in an objective, unbiased, pretty realistic way (double yay), it also features a half-Roma protagonist, whom I could not help but love because we poor halfies have to stick together, and an excellent, utterly absorbing, surprising, suspenseful mystery. My eyes could not move fast enough as I was reading–I wanted to stick this book in a pot, boil it, and slurp it up like a stew. JJ, the other protagonist, is adorable and sweet and will break your heart. Just thinking of him makes it start raining a little on my face.
Penney’s a masterful storyteller. This novel is detailed, well-written, and quite unique. My only criticism is that the big reveal, the culmination of the entire book’s dead ends, twists and turns, shocks and confusions, comes a little too late, in the penultimate chapter. But DAMN, it’s a shocker. I can’t even tell you–wait until you read it. Just do it. Go. Now. Go to the library or the bookstore and get this book. The author’s first book,The Tenderness of Wolves, got lots of praise and also has the best title of any book ever. I haven’t read it, but I definately will after readingThe Invisible Ones.
Best line: “Strange, isn’t it, how you can think of yourself as one thing for ninety-five percent of your waking life, and then an encounter with something or someone jerks you into remembering you’re something else, that other five percent that’s always been there, but slumbering, keeping its head down.” (p. 27)… (SO TRUE)
Rating: Four out of five periwinkle blue caravans.