Sandy P. (Gainesville, FL)
Nice blend of mystery and history. The ending could have been better. It seemed anti-climactic but believable. It did everything I ask a book to do....teach me something I didn't know yesterday and provide entertainment. Very enjoyable read after a day at work but not riveting.
Marge V. (Merriam, Kansas)
The Book Of Illumination
I would have liked to have given this book a 5 but couldn't because it had too many unbelievable plot twists. I can't reveal them because in doing so I give away the plot.
This novel takes place near Boston and within the confines of the pre-/post colonial city. Anza O'Malley's gifts of seeing and speaking with ghosts are carefully and simply presented by the authors. This story in no way is horrific but presents love, forgiveness, and redemption without being sentimental. When the author's write about Anza's parenting, it's authoritative and true to life. Her social relationships are skillfully and fully presented that it has you wanting to know more.
I hope we see more books featuring Anza O'Malley and her circle.:)
Cindy A. (Bryan, Texas)
Pleasant, but very little spook factor
The subtitle, “A Novel from the Ghost Files,” might lead you to think this book is based on a true story about a ghost-hunting expedition or a scary haunting. In fact, the ghosts—who can be bothersome, but aren’t dangerous—play a frustratingly minor role in this story, which is the purely fictional story of the multi-faceted life of Anza O’Malley. Anza struggles with being a single mother to her rambunctious five year old son, her unhealthy emotional attachment to her son’s happily married father, and, oh yes, the fact that she can see and talk to dead people.
The story of the missing manuscript and Anza’s encounters with the spirit world takes a back seat to her domestic issues. So, if you are looking for a good “ghost story,” look elsewhere. An average episode of The Ghost Whisperer will offer more tension and “fear-factor” than this novel.
Having said that, I found the story of Anza’s daily life with her son, Henry, to be realistic, and often quite charming (for example, the hoopla surrounding the kindergarten class party for the “Marriage of Q and U”). And the subplot involving the Winslow’s butler is sentimental, and more compelling than the hunt for the missing manuscript.
The Book of Illumination is a light, pleasant novel that simply needs a bit more balance and focus. But if you want a pleasant, diverting story about a woman trying to manage motherhood, work and romance while serving as a part-time Nancy Drew for a few harmless ghosts, you will enjoy this book.
Jane H. (Indianola, Iowa)
The Book of Illumination
I was disappointed in this book. It felt as if the author was trying too hard to weave two plots together for one story. The premise of the ghost speaker was interesting, and it was obvious that Winkowski knew much of the historical background used However, the sub-plot, of family life was tedious and did not embellish the story.
Mary S. (Hilton Head Island, SC)
Good, But Flawed
I really wanted to like this book-- the story line of ghosts and lost manuscripts was compelling, however, the story was interrupted far too often with the narrator's details of everyday life. The authors could have integrated the two stories much better. I felt like I was reading two separate books which was too bad as this could have been a very readable, engaging book.
Cathy G. (Shelton, CT)
Light reading, but not much ghostly interaction
When I read the back cover of this book i was expecting to read a book that had a lot of interaction with ghosts in addition to a lively mystery with many twists in the plot. Instead, the mystery got bogged down with too many detailed explanations about who was who and who did what. The book would have been better if there was more interaction with the ghosts and the mystery wasn't so slow.
The author seemed to be writing to a younger audience, stating things that would be obvious to an adult but might need explaining to an older child or very young teenager.
The mother tries to explain the afterlife to her very young child by telling him details of a gruesome story of a death in the family ending with the fact that she doesn't know if there's a heaven. The afterlife is a difficult concept for many adults and one that a 5 year old would never be able to grasp. Then she couldn't understand why he is afraid of death...and proceeded to lie to him about the fact that she would never die.
It just made no sense to me. A little like trying to explain where babies come from to a young child who then says the baby just comes out of mommy's tummy.
In my opinion, it would be a good book for an older child or young teenager to read. Some light mystery with a little ghostly interaction. But I definitely would not recommend it to anyone who is interested in a more complex story plot or character development.
Penny N. (Saginaw, MI)
Ghosts and Illuminations
A clever and "spirited" mystery about ghosts and an ancient book that takes place in modern Cambridge, MA. Anza O'Malley, a single mom and ghost-whisperer, solves the mysterious disappearance of a beautiful, illuminated manuscript. With the help of three ghosts O'Malley not only solves the crime she also brings an estranged family together. The book is also an interesting introduction to the art of bookbinding.