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Saturday, 28 January 2017

BOOK REVIEW: The Empty Room by Sarah J. Clemens

The Empty Room
Author: Sarah J. Clemens
Genre: Mystery / Romance
Date Published: July 23, 2016

Book Description:
Rain soaked and dreary, it was a 1901 abandoned Victorian that Dean and Elizabeth hoped would fulfill their dreams, even if the town of Eastbrook, Maine was trapped under a blanket of fog. The first neighbor they meet in town dashes those dreams when he raises a bizarre question: what happened to the last person who lived in their house? Under mounting pressure from the residents of Eastbrook to stop questioning the past, Dean and Elizabeth are driven deeper into the history of the house, and the town. When they discover what happened in Eastbrook, keeping the secret could save their lives, but uncovering the truth might be worth the risk.

A gripping psychological mystery, The Empty Room takes readers on a cat-and-mouse game where some secrets are better off hidden.

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MY REVIEW

There are certain challenges that come with being newlyweds, and for Dean and Elizabeth, their problems begin when they purchase an abandoned Victorian home in the small town of Eastbrook, Maine. The frosty reception from the locals was one thing, but when the couple discover that the previous owner of their home, Hayden Dobs, just up and left town in the middle of the night, leaving all his furnishings behind, suspicion kicks in. Even stranger is the one empty room in their home. Why had Hayden cleared out only one room and left everything else behind? What had caused him to leave so urgently? As Dean and Elizabeth delve deeper into the mystery surrounding the empty room and Hayden Dobs, they discover their connection to the events surrounding their home, a connection that is set to alter their lives indefinitely.

The Empty Room is steeped in mystery. Every character that was introduced knew something about what took place at Dean and Elizabeth's home prior to their arrival, and I was just as eager to unravel the truth as Dean and Elizabeth were. I won't give anything away, but I will say that there are two major myteries to be unraveled in this story, both of which are interlinked, and although I did solve one of the mysteries rather early on - there were pretty obvious clues presented throughout the story - I thought the subtle unraveling of it was well implemented. Because what was happening was so obvious to me, I did often wonder if that had been a deliberate strategy as a form of incentive to keep me reading, as I must admit, I probably wouldn't have kept reading had I not wanted to find out if my reasoning was correct. As for the second mystery, I did like the twist. That I had not contemplated.

I wasn't much of a fan of Elizabeth but I did enjoy Dean's snarky remarks and his humour. He was quite an entertaining character, and he definitely brought the story to life, but there's only so much a character can do with a slow building plot. The story just took so long to get anywhere, which was the biggest problem I had with this book. Dean and Elizabeth often seemed as though they were just wandering around, trying to find something to do and something to fill their time with. The pacing was just far too slow and the relevant details too miniscule to carry the story for the length that it was. Based on what was presented, the events that were taking place and the rate at which the story unfolded, it should have been shorter. For example, the first seven or eight chapters could have been shortened to three or four chapters. When not much is happening over many chapters, it makes the story feel as though it's being dragged out, which I often felt while reading the story.

Even though I did feel the story took too long to get to where it was going, I still felt there was enough content for readers to enjoy, particularly in the ending chapters. Those last few chapters were the highlight of the story for me. Honestly, I felt the story truly began near the ending of the book. I'm glad I stuck with it to the end as those last few chapters were enjoyable and full of tension. Had there been more of this pacing and relevance throughout (particularly the communicative exchanges among characters in accordance with the development of the plot), this would have been a great read. It was good for what it was.

VERDICT:

SILVER

Award: Silver
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Source: Review copy via Readding Addiction Blog Tours

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