Number of pages: 368
Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1
Rating (out of five stars): 2
Release Date: February 12th, 2019
*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for a review. My opinions are honest and my own.
This book broke the streak of good luck I’ve been having with ARCs lately, and I’m so sad. I’ve been trying to read more historical fiction because while historical fiction is probably my second favorite genre, I don’t tend to reach for it. I’ve had a lot of luck with historical murder mystery type books in the past, but there were a couple things that made Spectacle just not work for me.
I do this weird thing where I write my review in my head as I read, so I can tell you that Spectacle was originally going to get 3 stars, as I was just feeling very ‘meh’ about it for the majority of the book. So what changed?
First we have the characters. This was actually a good change, as my complaint in the beginning was that I felt like I didn’t know Nathalie. She wasn’t exactly the most well-written character ever, but I could at least describe her by the end of the book. My issue with the characters stems from the fact that the other characters aren’t very well-developed. I can’t describe them nearly as well as I can describe Nathalie, and even describing her would take a few minutes of thinking.
There’s also the issue of this book being far too long. The book should have been over at about 74%, but instead it continues to meander around and set up a sequel it really didn’t need. I’ve never written a murder mystery, but typically the story ends when you catch the killer, not after you create a few more subplots, set up the romance that shouldn’t exist, and try to end on a cliff-hanger. There isn’t even much too the mystery aspect. It feels like the mystery is background to watching Nathalie live her life.
Speaking of the book being far too long, the pacing of this is bad. Reading it is like watching someone who doesn’t have anywhere to be putter around with something. It takes far too long to get to the point of everything, and so much of it is dedicated to Nathalie doing normal everyday tasks.
On the romance, Nathalie has a crush on someone, he says he’s engaged to someone else, and that should have been the end of it. But it wasn’t. Instead, the guy goes out his way to tell her that if they had met any other way, they would have had a chance together. The villain also tells Nathalie that the guy is very fond of her (which she knows because mind-reading powers). Like the book tries very hard to set up something that should not exist. He proposed to another girl before Nathalie even spoke to him. Why is book trying so hard to make this romance happen (or at least lay the groundwork for it to happen in the sequel)?
I was in French Immersion for 10 years, and I started mispronouncing “tante” in my head while reading because I’m found it weird that the book called her “aunt” for 20%, and then suddenly switched to using “aunt” and “tante” interchangeably. One of my pet peeves is when books don’t smoothly incorporate non-English languages they’re using. When it isn’t smooth enough, it ends up looking more like a “Look at me. I know so much about X language” instead of it actually needing to be a part of the story. It is assumed by the reader that the characters you have in France are speaking French, but the words have been “translated” for the English-speaking audience to be able to read the book. You don’t need to throw in every French word you know to solidify that the characters are in a French-speaking country. Your book should have enough clues to set it in that place without the inclusion of the language and the mention of said country by name. Otherwise, your writing maybe needs to be re-evaluated.
It would be different if the book were in first person, the French character were relatively fluent in English, and they were mainly communicating with English-speakers in the text. Then, if the French speaking character were flustered or didn’t know the word they wanted to use in English, the inclusion of French would be justified and smoother. However, this excuse cannot be used for French characters speaking to French characters in France.
Last but not least, the magic system technically makes sense. I say technically because even though I’ve thought it through and there doesn’t appear to be any plot holes, it still feels like it doesn’t make sense. Like the book answered all of my questions, but I still feel like it shouldn’t make as much sense as I does.
Overall, Spectacle didn’t work for me, earning it 2 out of 5 stars.