REVIEW: EVELYN, AFTER, BY VICTORIA HELEN STONE

Evelyn Tester is sleepwalking through her suburban life—until a late-night phone call startles her awake. Her husband, a prestigious psychiatrist, has been in an accident. And he isn’t alone.

Suddenly Evelyn’s world isn’t as tidy as she thought. And in the midst of it all is Juliette, not only her husband’s secret lover but also his patient. If news of the affair were to get out, it would ruin more than just Evelyn’s marriage. Although it’s a bitter pill for Evelyn to swallow, protecting her family means staying silent—even if, as she begins to discover, the night of the accident has consequences far more dangerous than the unmasking of an affair.

But the more Evelyn learns about Juliette’s picture-perfect life—complete with a handsome, unsuspecting husband—the more she yearns for revenge…and satisfaction. Her growing obsession fuels her rage, burning away her complacency. What will be left of her after it flames out?
 
 
an interior journey thoughts


In alternating narratives between the past and present, we learn about our protagonist’s life in Evelyn, After, and begin to question her choices, even as we can understand them.

Why has Evelyn decided to act out of vengeance? What does she discover about herself in the process? What will her choices ultimately lead to as she follows this journey?

As I journeyed with Evelyn through her story, I wondered what she would do next. Would she find the answers she seeks? Will she finally earn the love she is missing?

I enjoyed Evelyn’s story, especially the ending, which brought peace, finally. 4.5 stars.
 
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SLIPPING BETWEEN REALITY & FANTASY: THE INTERIOR WORLD OF A DISTURBED WOMAN — A REVIEW

Entering the dream world of our protagonist, Trace/Ianthe, is like slipping between reality and fantasy.

An abused child whose poor grip on reality is balanced, at times, by her superior intelligence, Trace Pennington reinvents herself as Ianthe Covington, and enters college. There she manages some kind of normalcy, but lives in an abandoned farmhouse with her dog Weeds, barely existing except in the academic life she seemingly relishes.

When she meets and falls in love with a professor, Jacob Matthias, she drops out (in her senior year) and is seemingly absorbed into his life. But his dark secrets collide with her own and send her spiraling downward until, in flashes of memory or fantasy, we’re not sure which, she recalls the tragic finale to her childhood life and family.

Disturbing, intellectually challenging and gripping, Iodine: A Novel portrays the interior world of a psychotic woman, even as it gradually reveals the brutal, bizarre childhood that defined her.

This story sometimes had me spinning on the edge of reality, confused at times by Trace/Ianthe’s voice; in the end, I concluded that her perspective is her reality. The slippage of time, events, and the blurring between the past, the present, and some fantasy world…all combine to depict this young woman’s psyche and what defined her. Yet throughout, the reader can never know what is real, what is imagined, and what is simply the product of a disturbed mind.

Kimmel writes with brilliant prose and imagery, but I found this story confusing. However, I recommend it to those who revel in family dysfunction, and mental illness, and award it four stars.

ONE MAN’S JOURNEY TOWARD SANITY — A REVIEW

One man’s journey from a volatile and troubled childhood to a productive adulthood is stymied whenever he enters intimate relationships. A first marriage ends dramatically when the main character, Jeremy Walker, lifts his hand to strike his wife. He is able to curtail the impulse, but his subsequent efforts to curb the anger and potential violence in future relationships interfere with his ability to maintain closeness. The death of his second wife ends short of anything violent happening, but then he remains on his own for several years.

Until he meets Macy Caldwell. A single mother of a twelve-year-old girl, she offers an opportunity for Jeremy to try again.

But as the relationship progresses, Jeremy continues to struggle with his urges and impulses. What will happen to ultimately destroy his attempts? And how will Jeremy finally deal with the recurring “voices” that threaten everything he is trying to build in his life?

The story in One Voice Too Many was captivating, and the pages turned quickly for me. However, at times the writing style felt stilted and too formal for my taste. Despite these issues, I was quite intrigued by Jeremy’s journey and hoped for a satisfactory resolution. In the end, there was much left hanging…but perhaps this conclusion left room for hope. Three stars.