Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
Eight-year-old Alice loves and admires her mother, Claire, a seamstress in nineteenth-century London. But as Alice’s curiosity grows around the apparently taboo subject of her absent father, she’s determined to find some answers in The Dressmaker’s Secret by author Kellyn Roth.
This novel has an old-fashioned feel. Here and there, it gave me an impression much like the starkness I’ve felt while reading Dickens and Brontë (Charlotte more so than Emily.) My favorite parts were those centered on the antics and young struggles of the novel’s children, and I couldn’t help being reminded a bit of Johanna Spyri’s Heidi and her friend Peter, the shepherd boy, during the scenes with Alice and her friend Kirk, the stable boy.
I’ll admit that modern middle grade fiction is unfamiliar territory for me, as this novel is aimed at an upper middle grade to young adult audience. Yet, while the book’s stylistic aspects like the clear melodrama, the childlike or vague explanations, and the excess of exclamation points seem more fitting for children, much of the story’s subject matter might be pretty mature for readers younger than teens.
At times, I lost the sense of a vital plot behind the novel’s course of events. Then as the story headed toward its ending with a rather sudden and convenient solution for the characters’ predicament, I felt unsure about whether Claire and Alice were meant to grow and learn a central lesson through it all, beyond their outward circumstances.
Still, the novel’s mix of faith, mystery, romance, and the perspectives of characters of different ages should appeal to a number of Christian Fiction fans.