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Monday, November 15, 2010

My review of Tandem by Tracey Bateman.

4/5 stars for being compelling and well-written, and 2/4 hearts for spiritual content. The sporadic flutters of faith most often connected back to Billy, his faith journey, and testimony. This book is unique from other vampire stories because it has a faith thread.

Tandem: A Novel 
About the book:

As obsession and loss become dark partners, how far must the people of Abbey Hills go to survive?

Six months ago, brutal murders shook the small Ozark town—murders that stopped after a house fire reportedly claimed the killer’s life. Lauryn McBride's family auction house has taken responsibility for the estate sale of one of the victims—the enigmatic Markus Chisom. Submerging herself in Chisom’s beautiful but strange world, Lauryn welcomes the reprieve from watching Alzheimer’s steal her father from her, piece by piece. She soon realizes that centuries-old secrets tie Abbey Hills to the Chisom estate and a mysterious evil will do anything to make sure those secrets stay hidden. Even the man who grew up loving her may not be able to protect Lauryn from the danger.

When Amede Dastillon receives an unexpected package from Abbey Hills, she hopes it might be the key in tracking down her beloved sister, long estranged from her family. Visiting Abbey Hills seems the logical next step in her search, but Amede is unusually affected by the town, and when mutilated carcasses begin turning up again in the small community, the local law enforcement isn’t sure if they are confronting a familiar evil or a new terror.

Two women brought together by questions that seem to have no answers.  Can they overcome the loss and darkness threatening to devour them—or will their own demons condemn them to an emotional wasteland?

My review: 

I'd rate this more like 3.75 stars, but it's close enough to four to round it up. I read this book in just a few days. The writing is top notch, but the point of the story was a bit confusing to me. I'm usually really good at seeing symbolism in a book or perceiving the author's message. This one is a bit murky in my mind. I am probably at a major disadvantage from not having read the first book.

This was a compelling story. It wasn't boring or same old same old. But it was also very...strange. I am not totally sure how I feel about it. It seems like quite a number of recent Waterbrook novels are dark and a bit scary. I couldn't even finish the one by Sigmund Brouwer. It was too freaky. When it comes to scary stuff I'm a bit of a chicken. I never did like Halloween type movies or any of that stuff. But thankfully this wasn't just a vampire story (those blood sucking parts did make me shudder.) It was also a mystery because you were trying to figure out who was killing people. Bateman does a fantastic job with sticking enough Red Herrings in the plot so as the reader you aren't quite sure who is killing the people either. That increased my anxiety level and I was concerned for the characters at every turn. That was interesting and not something I commonly experience when I read.

I enjoyed the whole antique cataloging business theme and the characterization of Lauryn. I loved the relationships she had with people and her realization that she was pretty alone in the world. By trying to hang on to some things she was actually short-changing herself, and her own life would suffer. I found it odd that a vampire helped her gain some insight into her life, but they were all good points that were made.

Regarding Lauryn's story...I enjoyed the romantic thread a lot. It was pretty heart-fluttering with some yummy kissing scenes, so that was really good. In fact, I would have loved it even more if there had been more of this in the book. I never quite figured out the connection between the parts Lauryn wrote about her past with Billy (and others) and the vampire parts of the novel. Maybe I'm just dense, but it wasn't clear to me.

That said, I have to go back to the story itself. It seemed to sort of wrap up, but also open to a possible third book in the series. I don't know if there is one in the works or not, but I can see it as a possibility. I didn't quite see the connection between some of the characters and the point of it all. But it's hard to explain that without posting spoilers, so I'll leave it at that.

Bottom line...this book was interesting. There was a faith thread, and though it was weak, it was there. That made it a better-than-average vampire novel. Bateman's writing is always compelling. That's one thing I like about her writing style. My favorite stories she has written are her historical fiction titles. She always does an excellent job with developing internal conflict and looking into the human mind, motivations, emotions, and other issues that need resolution in her books. I know I can always count on her to deliver in that area. I enjoy complex characterization, and Bateman is good at that.

Tandem was published by Waterbrook and released in October 2010.

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