Honestly the only thing I enjoyed about this novel was the cover. I wish I could say I was being hyperbolic.
The author failed to write a profound, meaningful novel that she seemingly so desperately wished to create. Instead it was a dull tale about a hallucinatory killer. It was also a fiction with an agenda. The author clearly wished to stir within us empathy/sympathy for those on death row, however, I failed to be moved and found the agenda irksome. There were far too many coincidences and seemingly everyone suffered a similar terrible childhood. Yes, terrible childhoods are awful but they are not an excuse for these individuals to rape, kill and mutilate others. I only have sympathy for individuals on death row if they are actually innocent
of the crimes they were convicted of. The author also seemed to think that I cared what books the convict was reading or had read. Continually listing books does not warm me to the convict, so he reads...what else does he have to do? And listing so many books does not appeal, it simply comes across as pretentious. Once, early on, I tried endlessly to say the word “Sioux” inside my head. I am still not sure how it sounds. Is the X silent? I would think for hours how strange it was that some parts of words are silent, just like some parts of our lives. Did the people who wrote the dictionaries decide to mirror language to our lives, or did it just happen that way?
Yet another profound failure.“His father?” the lady asks carefully. “Who knows? She slept with the whole town.” The old woman checks from under shaggy gray eyebrows to see how the lady responds to that information. The lady doesn’t respond. In her heart, she just hears warm voices.
Slut shaming? Check. Weird warm voices in the heart? Check.
The setting is ambiguous, aside from it being mostly in a prison. The fantasy elements were not true magical realism, they were simply hallucinatory crazy talk from the prisoner. I do not think it qualifies for this listing, although many seem to disagree. Although a great number of reviews also indicated how well written the novel was as well, when I feel it failed to be anything but dull and shallow. Overall the author's use of an ambiguous setting and hallucinatory elements gave the author too free reign to be vague and use obscure or simply odd metaphors. I also felt the author's choice of having the main female character simply be referred to as “the lady” annoying and distancing to the reader.
Overall I only enjoyed the cover, unfortunately (in this case) I do not judge a book by its cover.