My Goodreads Review of Don Juan in Hankey, PA by Gale Martin
You can see this review on Goodreads here.
First off the bat I’d like to give a couple of provisos to this review. I was using a review copy so I’m not sure what changes if any there have been to the final proof. Also I’m not sure this is my normal genre of choice which has mainly currently been Young Adult dystopian or fantasy.
That said I really enjoyed Gale Martin’s debut novel and here are the reasons why.
Gale is an excellent graduate of the show not tell school of writing.
She uses a switching point of view masterfully without making the reader dizzy.
Her characters are all unique and three dimensional and you care about the success of their venture. (I had the pleasure of interviewing Gale and her main character Deanna on my blog. When I started reading the book Deanna didn’t jump out as the only character of interest with the others used as plot devices and this is a huge credit to the story).
Gale’s personal love of opera creeps into the novel in the setting and plot but this is secondary to the story of the people in the opera world so you don’t have to know anything about opera to enjoy it (I certainly don’t).
There are some fantastic moments of comedy, usually involving ghosts. I adored the seance scene.
So after all of that praise why only 4 and not 5 stars.
As I said as a proviso this is not my usual genre. If anything it’s too happy and farcical (but it doesn’t profess to be a serious book).
When interviewing Gale I asked her about the short summaries at the start of each chapter. I had guessed correctly that these were an operatic device (from the written libretto) and therefore a nod to opera. For some reason this was a real sticking point for me reading this as a piece of fiction. I felt they took me out of the story and told me what was happening. As I said earlier Gale is a master at showing and I think where additional information was given in these summaries they would have been more effective in the main narrative. This is a completely personal preference and I’ve seen a number of reviews that liked this aspect.
I also wanted one character to get a starring part on opening night – but this is just me being selfish and I enjoyed the actual scene.
All in all I would be happy to read it again and I think it would be great translated into film. It’s also got me intrigued enough to try and see an opera in 2012. I look forward to reading more from Gale.
I gave the book 4/5 stars.