Review: The Echo of a Footfall by Patricia Scampion

50247492._SY475_The Echo of a Footfall by Patricia Scampion

Published: December 7, 2019 by Troubador Publishing

Buy this book at: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Synopsis: In 1926, having cared for her sick mother on her own for some years, 16 year old Mary gives birth to a baby boy in the Workhouse. Abandoned by her mother, unsupported by the child’s father, and behaving in ways the Workhouse finds difficult to manage, her baby is taken from her and she is sent to the local mental hospital (previously the lunatic asylum). Here, with the help of other inmates, and encouraged by an ambitious young woman seeking her vocation as a nurse, she begins a long process of discovery and development, learning to read and write, and then to cook and cater for the staff and patients in the institution that becomes her home.

Set against a backdrop of changes in attitude to, and treatments for, mental illness, and reflecting developments in post war societal structures, particularly those involving immigration from the Empire, Mary’s story spans over 50 years, as, discharged from the hospital, she continues to strive to find her identity, to understand where she belongs, and ultimately to find her baby. While the influence of the Great War on the lives of those who survived it echoes over the lives of the generations that follow, Mary yearns for a caring and tolerant community to support the family she finally creates for herself.

Rating: 3 star

Review: ***I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Troubador!!***

This book took me on quite a ride, some of it good and some of it not so good. The premise is one that I found interesting. At the turn of the 20th century, the world was undergoing a big transformation with regard to mental health. There was still a lot of the old methods of locking people away because they didn’t fit into the societal mold. But the world was also beginning  to wonder if that was the best way to deal with “deviant” people, or perhaps they should focus on the truly mentally ill with more compassion. This is where Mary comes in. She has a baby out of wedlock right in the middle of this period. Her baby is taken and she is sent to the asylum where she spends most of her life. This was the story of Mary finding her own family and creating her own community.

This book was a slow burn. I mean, really slow. Most of this book is just people having conversations. Sometimes that made things a bit boring and I started to skim because nothing was happening. The first part of the book that takes place in the asylum was the most boring. Not only was the majority of the story taking place in conversations but the limited actions outside of those conversations were also extremely repetitive. Wake up, go to breakfast, go to the yard for exercise, go to the day room, go to bed. For about 140 pages. It was dull and I found that I didn’t care much about what happened.

Once Mary is transitioned out of the asylum the story started to take off. Now it was getting interesting. She is a middle aged woman who suddenly has to figure out how to make money, make friends, buy clothes, all the normal adult things that one does. She doesn’t even know how a person is supposed to buy underwear because she’s been in an asylum since she was 16. That transition was hard for her as she both yearned for her freedom and was scared to relinquish the safety and security of asylum life. It was a compelling story and I enjoyed watching her make friends and create a community around her.

My biggest problem with the book was that the author seemed to want to connect everyone to Mary personally. By the end of the book pretty much every single person that Mary was close to had kept some secret from her about how they were related to her former life or her child’s life. And then in the epilogue the author told us who Mary’s child was. I was frustrated because it felt contrived. I already had emotions towards these people and their relationship with Mary, why did we have to have this extra layer that added no substance? The whole point of the book was that even though Mary never found her long lost son she created a family for herself, filled with love and trust. It should have been left there and I should have never known who her son was.

Overall, a compelling story about a tragic young woman who transform into a formidable grown woman. A story about a woman creating her own way, even when the world didn’t think she could. And that was a great book.

Parasite by Mira Grant

parasite Parasite by Mira Grant

Expected publication October 29th, 2013 by Orbit

Preorder this book at: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository / Books A Million

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author and Orbit!

 

Synopsis:

A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite – a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system – even secretes designer drugs. It’s been successful beyond the scientists’ wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives…and will do anything to get them.

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

I am not sure where this book went wrong for me but I went into it with high expectations. I am a fan of Mira Grant, I find her to be a very good writer and I have enjoyed what I’ve read from her in the past. And I started off enjoying this too, but somewhere along the line it just lost its appeal and I ended up bored.

The idea behind this book is a good one although I have to admit I was skeptical about the idea that science had engineered tapeworms to treat our medical ills. These things can secrete medication, adjust metabolism, mend some injuries, and a whole host of other things. But I have a hard time believing that just in a decade from now 99% of society will be totally cool with intentionally ingesting a parasite. I didn’t really buy that but then I had to remind myself that there are people out there who buy tapeworms off the internet to lose weight so maybe it’s more possible than this wouldn’t be as hard of a sell as I believe.

The main character was interesting but she got a bit old after awhile. I liked Sal ultimately. She was in a horrible accident that left her clinically brain dead and on life support. Her family was about to end life support when she woke up against all medical odds. The company that manufactures these tapeworms suspect that her “implant” played a role in her recovery and so offer to pay all her expenses in exchange for studying how that is possible.  Unfortunately this is when I began to suspect that I knew what was going on, I looked at the synopsis and looked at Sal and thought “I hope I’m wrong about this!”

The story moved a bit slower than I would have liked but the information was interesting so I didn’t get bored. We met some new characters that I liked and I enjoyed the people we met at first. I hated Sal’s family. They were bossy, secretive and pains in the ass. More than once I found myself cringing when they said something to Sal and I thought, how could you SAY that to your daughter! I didn’t like the people at SymboGen because they were just all creepy and narcissistic. The secretive people that are determined to give Sal answers weren’t much better since they were clearly using her for their own means. By the end the only characters I liked were Sal, her boyfriend, and Tansy.

The big reveals were equally great and disappointing. The first big reveal floored me. I didn’t see it coming a mile away and I felt as betrayed as Sal did. But I recovered quickly since technically we didn’t know the character all that terribly well. But the second big reveal was awful. Remember that moment in the very beginning when I thought “I hope I’m wrong”? Yeah, I wasn’t wrong. It shouldn’t be that blatantly obvious.

At the end of the day I enjoyed it but the ending took away from my enjoyment a little bit. I am interested enough in the second book that I will definitely read it but once again I suspect I know what the plot is going to be and I pray, please let me be wrong!