Author: Hilary Scharper
No. of Pages: 448
Origins: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: 20 January 2015
Bottom Line: Absolutely gorgeous detail cannot save the foray into fantasy
“Marged Brice is 134 years old.
She’d be ready to go, if it wasn’t for Perdita . . .
The Georgian Bay lighthouse’s single eye keeps watch over storm and calm, and Marged grew up in its shadow, learning the language of the wind and the trees. There’s blustery beauty there, where sea and sky incite each other to mischief… or worse…
Garth Hellyer of the Longevity Project doesn’t believe Marged was a girl coming of age in the 1890s, but reading her diaries in the same wild and unpredictable location where she wrote them might be enough to cast doubt on his common sense.
Everyone knows about death.
It’s life that’s much more mysterious…”
Thoughts: Perdita is the type of story that leaves readers scratching their heads in confusion upon finishing it. There is no real closure, nor is there an appropriate number of explanations to go along with the wealth of questions. Given how immensely enjoyable Marged’s story is, as told through her journal entries from long ago, the lack of answers and of a satisfactory ending to Marged’s story is tremendously disappointing.
There is no indication that the story will fizzle so severely either, further compounding a reader’s disappointment. Marged’s story of her life on the Georgian Bay, her independence and growing love for a fellow inhabitant are all fascinating. The descriptions alone are breathtaking, with vivid imagery that paints explicit pictures for readers of everything from the landscape to the mundane details of life on the bay to her winter in Toronto. The storytelling is effortless and engaging.
Whereas Marged is a brilliantly described, three-dimensional character, Garth never becomes quite as vibrant or defined. When Marged’s history draws to a close and the story turns to more present-day scenes involving Garth, the story loses its way. Gone are the impressive details and clarity of character. In their place is a muddy plot so convoluted and ill-defined that readers can only forge ahead or get caught in a mire of confusion. This is also the point at which Perdita becomes a more prominent element/character of the story, whereby the entire story loses all cohesion.
Perdita is the type of story that does not need anything supernatural to enhance it or set it apart from other novels. The story itself is extremely strong, well-written and a thoroughly engaging piece of historical fiction. The addition of the supernatural in the form of the mysterious Perdita essentially ruins the story not only because she never receives an adequate explanation for her appearance but also because the moment she becomes a character the entire feel of the novel changes. The story loses the charm that makes it so enjoyable to become something less believable and much more forced. To have such a wonderful story abruptly change as much as it does as suddenly as it does is a disappointment that leaves readers feeling more than a little upset at the loss of what was for what took its place.