30 Jan 2013


Thanks to  Newbooks magazine who kindly sent me this Arc (Advanced Reading Copy) of Sketcher asking me to concentrate on my impressions of the book as opposed to the storyline.


Nine-year-old 'Skid' Beaumont's family is stuck in the mud. Following his father's decision to relocate and build a new home, based on a drunken vision that New Orleans would rapidly expand eastwards into the wetlands as a result of the Seventies oil boom, Skid and his brothers grow up in a swampy area of Louisiana.

But the constructions stop short, the dream fizzles out, and the Beaumonts find themselves sinking in a soggy corner of 1980'S Cold War America. As things on the home front get more complicated, Skid learns of his mother's alleged magic powers and vaguely remembers some eerie stories surrounding his elder brother Frico.
....... Outer back copy.

FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): Well to begin with, lemme tell you, my pops is the reason we grew up in that swamp.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 90): ...... but then three weeks ago, he came into the swamp and bought a kid goat off me sayin he wanted to try 'something different' for Thanksgivin'. Now, I sold him the goat, but goats don't go 'gobble-gobble', so I knowed somethin' was up.

MY THOUGHTS: Now a novel of some 280 or so pages, the fact that Sketcher was originally a short story (it won the Lightship Short Story Competition) explains a lot. 

Difficult to follow at first, the fact that much of the narrative was written in the local vernacular took some time to adjust to but even more confounding was the fact that the novel just didn't flow as well as it might. 

OK, so there was an on-going theme of sorts but Sketcher felt more like a collection of anecdotes, like a set of stories that had been put together as a serialisation in a magazine or newspaper.

Narrated by the supposedly adolescent Skid between the ages of nine ('almost ten') and sixteen (his use of words suggested someone much older), there really wasn't much of a feel with regard to the time-frame of the novel, indeed it felt like the events took places over a matter of perhaps months rather than years. 

Largely disappointing, I was saddened that more wasn't made of mother, Moms, or brother, Frico/Sketcher's supposed magical abilities and that whilst a strong voice was given to many of the characters there were plenty of others who appeared somewhat superfluous to the story. 

Disclaimer #1:Removal of any part of this post without my express consent is considered copyright infringement. This post was created by and for Petty Witter @ Pen and Paper. If you are reading this post on any other site please contact the original blog owner/reviewer.

DISCLAIMER#2: An Advanced Reading Copy (Sketcher will not be published May 23rd 2013) read and reviewed on behalf of NEWBOOKS magazine. I was merely asked for my honest opinion, no financial compensation was asked for nor given.


Betty Manousos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Betty Manousos said...

hi tracy,
despite the lovely cover i definitely won't read this one.

thanks for your brilliant review.
big hugs

Arti said...

The book seems to be shabbily done. Excellent detailed review as usual Tracy. Have a lovely day :)

....Petty Witter said...

Interesting that you liked the cover Betty, not to my taste I'm afraid..

A debut novel, Arti, an interesting idea that, for me, just didn't work.

Patti said...

Thanks for the review. I find books written in the local vernacular make them a little harder to follow. Sounds like the author needed to do some revising.

Suko said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am not sure what my impressions of this book would be.

Brandi Kosiner said...

Sorry it wasn't what you'd hoped. Thanks for honest review.

Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

I do think that it was a little unfair of 'Newbooks Magazine' to ask you to base your review on your impressions of the book, rather than the storyline ... Personally, I think the two things are synonymous and go hand in hand, when writing a review.

I guess that it is all a bit irrelevant, given that you didn't seem to enjoy the book at all, no matter what the context. It's a real shame, as the synopsis sounded promising and I like the cover art, which kind of fits the storyline very well.

Thanks for your honest opinion and I hope that your next book is more to your taste.


Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I'm still worried about that goat. :)

Not sure it is for me. Sorry it didn't just flow for you. I'm wondering if the author took a different writing style (no anecdotes) it would have worked better.

Jenners said...

Sounds like it wasn't a good fit for you. Thanks for your honest review!

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

The cover drew me in right away. Sounds like it has some good qualities, but that it was lacking in others. Thanks for sharing your honest review. :)

the bookworm said...

That's too bad this fell flat, the premise sounded interesting.