by V. R. Christensen
Devo Girl was SO excited to find this one--a blind man AND a deafblind man as main characters, a Victorian setting, period language, a great cover, all so promising. But it turned out to be a huge disappointment.
Arthur has been blind since birth,
and lives as an angry, bitter shut-in. Zachary Goodfellow (get it?) is also blind,
kind of, and poor, but cheerful. As a result of a beating, he lost his
hearing but regained some of his sight. Rebecca is a do-gooder who wants
to help Arthur by hiring Zachary to be a companion to him, but Arthur's
hateful attitude won't let him accept her help.
The treatment of
blindness and deafness is not at all realistic. Zachary seems to get
along with nothing more than a positive attitude. It's so unrealistic that he hardly seems disabled at all. The bitter,
angry blind man who shuts himself off from society is such a cliche.
Rebecca has a big scar on her face, and thinks only a blind man could
love her for who she is on the inside, also a huge cliche. And she has
magic powers that allow the men to see and hear when she touches them.
So their blindness and deafness is basically dispensed with in the
crucial moments of the plot. HATE HATE HATE. Why can't authors come up with something better than this when writing about blind characters?
Although the author is a pretty good
prose stylist, she goes a bit overboard in taking on the Victorian
moralizing as well as the ornate language. Arthur is BAD and Zachary is
GOOD, and there's never any doubt as to where the story is going. In
demonstrating the rewards of virtue and meekness in the face of
adversity, the characters come across as completely flat. The setting is also quite thin. Is the the US or England? Why in
a seemingly small village do people not know each other? And like a Dickens novel, it all ends with the discovery of secret family bonds. Ugh!