Thursday, 11 May 2017

BOOK REVIEW: On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher

On the Other Side is the recently-released novel by Carrie Hope Fletcher, author of All I Know Now. I've recently discovered that she's also a well-known vlogger. I didn't know this before I read the novel, but I am a huge fan of paranormal/magical realism, which is what attracted me to On the Other Side.

When Evie Snow passes away at eighty-two, she finds herself outside of the apartment she lived in during her late twenties. In fact, she's now twenty-seven again, and faced with a door that refuses to open. A door, she's told, that will lead to her own private heaven. She learns that to enter, her soul needs to be light enough, and so she has to lose the weight of the secrets she's kept throughout her entire life. So she sets out, as a spirit, to unburden herself of the secrets, and pass messages to those who require it.

Evie has to venture back through her life and loves in order to finally pass through to the afterlife. Which means revisiting those she has loved - and lost. As a woman born into a very wealthy family, Evie's mother had hopes of her daughter marrying the son of their equally rich friends - a son who has always loved Evie, but who Evie has never loved back, only as a friend.

Evie had liked to make choices of her own, and had made a deal with her mother: that if she does not find a good job in an animation studio - her dream - within one year, then she will follow her mother's plan to marry James. However, Evie doesn't envision falling for a handsome, lovely busker from the poorer side of town. As Evie navigates her way through the afterlife, she must finally give up the secrets, and reveal the love story of her entire life before she can move on to the next one.

On the Other Side is a very romantic tale; romantic in a magical kind of way. Less of a sugary love story and more like a fairytale, which I personally loved. However, there were some issues with this book that prevented me from giving it a higher rating.

First of all, the time period of this novel was not specified; Evie died at eighty-two, yet the world she lived in during her twenties seemed no different to the modern day, besides certain things, such as her workplace, which was described as being inhabited by seedy men who would think nothing of slapping a woman on the backside. The relationship with her family and the idea of an arranged marriage led me to assume that the novel was set some fifty or more years ago (possibly even the 1930s), which would ring true, however other aspects in the book seemed more modern, such as fashion, and references to sexuality which seemed to be widely accepted, even though, back then, it would not have been so simple.

This became confusing, not to mention grating, leaving me wondering whether this was deliberate, as it is in some books. However, it was so unclear that instead it just seemed less deliberate, and more likely that the author simply didn't do her research.

Which leads me to the second issue: Evie's mother. Given Evie's desire to be independent, to leave her home with its maid and cook and butler and live in her own apartment, I found it hard to believe that such a supposedly strong-minded woman in her late twenties would still go along with her mother's plan in the first place. Why did she not refuse, early on? If her love was so strong, why did she not be honest with her mother and simply refuse to marry?

These problems did spoil the book for me quite a bit, as they distracted from what would have been a warm, emotional love story. And it was - it wasn't predictable, and the revelation of Evie's secrets and kept me reading until the end. If you can ignore the problems with some of the novel, it's a sweet, modern fairytale.

Rating: 2/5

Thank you to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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