Apr 10, 2013
Review: Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
In present day we meet Claire, a journalist at a large, local newspaper, owned by her husband's family. It becomes obvious early on that Claire and her husband heve been through something traumatic in the last year and the strain of that trauma is beginning to put cracks in their marriage. During a rare late season snowstorm, Claire is assigned to write an article about the odd weather phenomenon. At first, she is less than thrilled with her assignment but while researching the archives she stumbles across a most unusual story from 1933. The fact that a similar snow-storm occurred on the exact same day in 1933 was to be the focal point of the story, however, what really caught Claire's attention was the disappearance of a three-year-old little boy in the middle of that storm and the subsequent murder of his mother, a worker in one of Seattle's poshest hotels at that time. A local townsman had been convicted of the crime but very little was done to locate the boy.
The mysterious disappearance of that child and the complete lack of information in the files is just what Claire needsedto get her spark back. Against her supervisor's wishes, she turned this simple story about the weather into something much more. Soon she is consumed with finding out who the little boy is and if he was ever found. The trail she set out on took her places she never dreamed and to people she couldn't have imagined.
I have to admit that I saw this book making it's way around the blogs after it's release and saw it mentioned on Twitter a lot but I just never picked it up. I don't know what I was waiting on. To be honest, I remember reading a few reviews that indicated it may be a little predictable and that is something I hate in books. But this was a good lesson for me to learn because I didn't find it predictable at all. Sure, I had my moments of 'I knew it!!' but overall, I was completely caught off guard by the final outcome. And I loved it.
Another aspect I appreciated was that Sarah Jio successfully wrote a book of mystery with some romance thrown in. Typically, I'm not a big romance novel reader, but this had just the right amount that didn't overtake the story but added to it. I thought it was well done.
The characters are strong, in both storylines and though I enjoyed Claire's story, I was always anxious to get back to Vera Ray and her lost son in 1933. It was fascinating to me. The city, itself, became a character in this book and I really enjoyed that as well. I felt the chapters alternating between the stories fit very well and moved it along and kept me wanting more from both. As I read on, the stories began to intertwine, which drew me in even more.. I honestly had a hard time putting this one down.
As I said earlier, having the backdrop of Seattle only added to the goodness of this novel. There is such a rich history in that city and I found it very endearing in the way Sarah Jio used it to her advantage. I've since learned that she lives in Seattle, which explains her obvious admiration for the city.
I'm very anxious for her fourth book, THE LAST CAMELLIA to be released on May 28th by Penguin (Plume). I've read that it's her 'darkest and most mysterious novel to date'. Hmm, dark and mysterious - I'm in! I also have made a promise to myself to go back and read her first two books as well. BLACKBERRY WINTER is one of my most enjoyable reads so far this year. If you've read it, I'd love to know your thoughts..
Author: Sarah Jio
Publisher: Penguin (Plume)
Pubilshed: September 2012