Saturday, November 23

Book Review: The Crooked Maid

Title: The Crooked Maid

Author: Dan Vyleta

Pages: EBook 366

Summary: Mid-summer, 1948. Two strangers, Anna Beer and young Robert Seidel, meet on a train as they return to Vienna, where life is just resuming after the upheavals of war. Men who were conscripted into the German army are filtering back home, including Anna’s estranged husband, Dr. Anton Beer, who was held prisoner in a brutal Russian camp. But when Anna returns to their old apartment, she finds another man living there and her husband missing.

At his own house, Robert is greeted by a young maid with a deformed spine. The household is in disarray, with his mother addicted to narcotics and his stepfather, an industrialist and former Party member, hospitalized after a mysterious attack. Determined to rebuild their lives, Anna and Robert each begin a dogged search for answers in a world where repression is the order of the day. Before long, they are reunited as spectators at a criminal trial set to deliver judgment on Austria’s Nazi crimes.

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was a very enjoyable read, which at times I had a hard time putting down, while sometimes I felt disconnected from the characters, most of the time I was reading through the dark and at times, mysterious read, making it hard to put down.

There was the mysterious element to the book that was a reoccurring theme, that wasn't revealed to the end. I was waiting for certain answers to be revealed to find out what had happen to certain characters, what their true motives where etc. And I think the author set that aspect of the book up wonderfully. There were times I didn't want to put the book down, just so I could find out more information about certain characters - even the ones only mentioned, or rarely seen.

I also think the atmosphere of the book was also beautifully done. Vyleta gave a very raw and realistic setting, it had all the elements to make the reader feel they were being pulled into the book. I think the author did a fantastic job at recreating the aftermath of the war in Austria, and at times I felt to be almost haunting in how he showed the reader how it had affected the people. It was a very gloomy book, but it's one of the aspects of it I enjoyed the most - it's realistic and it really pulled me into the story.

The main issue I had with the book was the characters, while there was a mysterious intrigue but I always felt disconnected from them. I also found some to be underdeveloped and that their own personal stories, Robert's mother for example, didn't mesh well with the story as a whole. As an individual his mother had some interesting aspects to her, but how she was written in this story didn't work well, to me it felt of place.

Overall, even with some of my issues with the characters, I found this to be an excellent read, that has ,e eyeing up the authors other books.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, not having read The Quiet Twin, it casued me to pick up a copy right away.

What to read next: The Quiet Twin, The other Giller shortlisted books.

Challenges: 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Alphabet Challenge

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