Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: Seven Locks by Christine Wade

Title: Seven Locks
Author: Christine Wade
Format: ARC
Publisher: Atria
Publish Date: January 1, 2013
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan.
What's the Story?:

From "In the years before the American Revolution, a woman’s husband mysteriously disappears without a trace, abandoning her and her children on their farm at the foot of the Catskill Mountains. At first many believe that the farm wife, who has the reputation of being a scold, has driven her husband away. But as the strange circumstances of his disappearance circulate, a darker story begins to unfold, sending the lost man's wife on a desperate journey to find the means and self-reliance to ensure her family’s survival.

Inspired by a famous American folktale, Seven Locks is an ambitious and poignant exploration of family love, secrets, and misunderstandings, and of the inner and outer lives of the American frontier at the end of the eigtheenth century.

In this lyrical and complex book, which opens with a mystery and ends with a literary twist, Wade creates a rich, imaginative and tactile evocation of life and times in the historical Hudson River Valley, where the lines between myth and reality fade in the wilderness beyond the small towns, while an American nation struggles to emerge."

My Two Cents:

I am a little torn on "Seven Locks." First off, I really, really liked the writing. While the book itself deals with some pretty negative topics but the writing is almost lyrical. The writing is definitely what kept me reading. I also loved that this book was inspired by a folktale. Even if I was not familiar with the folktale, it was interesting to see how the author twisted the story to make it into something new again.

The story is told from the point of view of a mother (whose name we never get to know) and a daughter, Judith. I thought it was interesting that so few of the characters are named in the book. Really the only ones that have names are Judith, Judith's school teacher, and the neighbor. As for the rest of them, they are only referred to by things like husband, father, and son. I found myself wondering as I read the book if this was done intentionally and if so, to what purpose.

I had a really hard time connecting with the mother. She seems really mean and cruel, especially to her husband. I wondered if she hadn't gone through some past trauma or something to make her the way that she is but the book never really goes into that.

I really enjoyed the setting of the book. Most of it takes place in upstate New York in the late 1700s, which was a very interesting time for anyone in America of course. Judith's family is Dutch and it was interesting to see how Judith's mother still clings to the Dutch way of life while Judith says several times how excited she is to be an American Daughter. Historical fiction fans will definitely enjoy that aspect.

Bottom line: A solid read with a lot of questions left unanswered.



  1. You enjoyed this one more than I did, I really struggled to finish it.

  2. Sounds like an interesting book, based on a folk story. I have not seen many historical novels set in this period.

    1. Same here! It was definitely new and different to me, which I liked a lot!

  3. I am curious to look into it. Yours isn't the only review that I've read where this book was a little bit of a disappointment. Maybe I should skip this one.


    1. It was okay but there are a lot of better books out there!

  4. I am curious about the lore and writing style, too bad about the characters.


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