Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: Brides of Eden by Linda Crew

Title: Brides of Eden: A True Story Imagined
Author: Linda Crew
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: 2001
Pages: 240

Rating: 6 out of 10

In 1903 Corvallis, Oregon, a group consisting primarily of young women were drawn into a twisted cult by a handsome young man who claimed to be the Second Christ. In the beginning, everything seemed perfectly ordinary, and no one noticed when things began to gradually slip into chaos.

The account, though fictional, of this true story was both horrifying and fascinating to read about. As things progress, the events become darker, more extreme, and more tragic.

I couldn't put this book down, and I devoured it in only about 45 minutes. It was certainly a page-turner, and the fact that it isn't all that taxing of a read helped.
However, while the story and meaning behind this book are memorable and interesting, everything else was left at mediocre quality.

The characters were never fully developed, written to be mostly shallow sketches. I found the best character to be Mr. Hurt, the main character's father, even though he was not featured extensively. His story of losing everything was a heartbreaking one, and the way that he unconditionally loves his family after everything they put him through was touching and sad.
The false prophet, the evil and mysterious Joshua, was a disappointment. What was his story? Why would he go to such lengths to invent this cult, and where did he get the idea? I kept wanting to really feel the power of that gaze Eva always spoke about, to be charmed by him like the characters were, to be heartbroken when I learned of his betrayal. Instead, he is simply left at being bad, and there is little background, leaving him as a rather weak villain, unfortunately.
The main character, Eva, never got through to me. Her feelings are muffled, mentioned only fleetingly and in simple wording.

This book is classified as YA - but I wish that the author would have had the courage to write it as it should have been. YA or not, this is a mature subject that deserves mature writing. Rape, suicide, murder, starvation, and a twisted cult all play a part here, and yet they are watered down as much as possible.
After her assault, Eva is confused, but far from traumatized, and it is barely brought up again.

If you have some imagination, and can picture what such events and circumstances must have really been like for these people, it really fills in a lot of the story, and it certainly did for me.

This book is a good attempt, even if not an entirely successful one. Nevertheless, worth reading.