Sunday, 17 July 2016

Review of the Witnessing of Matlyn Wren by Jennifer Lynn January


Twenty something Matlyn Wren has had a tough start in life but is in a good place with her sister and tight knit friendship group, she has a flourishing business and not a care in the world.  Baker is a Dark Omen, he has spend almost 100 years witnessing the stories of death, and with 1 year left of his obligation, the next story he is sent to witness is that of Matlyn.  Drawn to his story in a way that he wasn’t expecting, he must battle with whether to stay in the shadows or become part of her life.  When the latter option becomes the only option, the real reason for him coming into her life come's out and Matlyn must come to terms with the inevitable conclusion of his presence.   And why is there a light omen seemingly also interested in Matlyn’s story??

I wanted to love this book but, I’m sad to say that every now and then there will be a book that no matter how much you want to like it, just isn’t your cup of tea. I realise that I am very much in a minority, given the number of great reviews for this book.  I signed up for this on the basis of it being an Urban Fantasy and the blurb was intriguingly vague.  For the fantasy element it’s fair to say that I did very much enjoy it when it finally got there.  What I wasn’t expecting, was the highly sexualised element of the story.  For me there were two reasons why it wasn’t really for me, firstly, I just didn’t get on with Matlyn.  I found her and her friends a bit tiresome (maybe that’s me showing my age)  but I didn’t enjoy their vernacular and I just found that there was nothing about them that I could connect to. As the blurb gave no real indication of an erotic element it wasn’t something I was expecting and it did take me by surprise.  Again, I have no issue at all with sex in books, however, Matlyn’s sexual ambiguity is something that just isn’t really my bag and I found myself skimming some parts for that reason.

On the plus side, the introduction of Omen’s is a first for me in a story, the separation of the light (to witness the good times in life's story) and the dark (to witness the approach to the end of life) and how that distinction impacts upon their time as witnesses was well considered. The etching of the story on their bodies being an exhilarating experience for one but a deeply painful experience for the other.  Baker’s retelling of earlier witnessing’s is both unsettling at times and thought provoking.  It’s a reminder of just how fragile our life’s thread truly is.  Matlyn’s way of dealing is painful to read at times and somewhat uncomfortable (depending on what you enjoy in that regard).  There is a huge juxtaposition between her almost childlike state of enjoyment of allowing herself to simply behave that way, and the sombre maturity of what is to come.  It’s a story that eventually I became truly engrossed in (I did struggle with the first part of the book whilst it was mainly about Matlyn and her friends) and I found myself drawn into the worlds of the omens and the pages flew by.  Baker for me is the true star of this story and I am glad that so much of it was handed over to his point of view.  His heartbreaking choices and wishes for the normal life he was never afforded were the real gut wrencher's.

There is much to enjoy in this book and clearly many have given the other great reviews.  I am grateful to the author for the opportunity for a review copy I’m just sorry that it wasn’t really for me.


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