ARC REVIEW: Heresy – by Melissa Lenhardt

Title: Heresy
Author: Melissa Lenhardt
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: October 2nd 2018
Publisher: Redhook
Finished reading: November 26th 2018
Pages: 384

“But you’ve always got choices, Grace. And every single choice you make ripples out through your life and every other person you meet.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Redhook in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I can’t even remember the last time I read a Western inspired historical fiction story, so I was really excited when I first saw Heresy. And it’s not just another historical setting with a Western vibe, because it follows a gange of female outlaws and that’s something you don’t exactly hear about every day. Unfortunately, somehow Heresy failed to grab me completely. I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but the fact is that it took me a lot longer than expected to reach the final page, and I wasn’t enjoying myself as much as I thought I would. This slower pace made the story drag in parts, and this has a lot to do with the format of the story. Instead of a ‘simple’ storyline or even ‘simple’ POV switches, we have to learn the story about Margaret Parker through for example diaries, case notes and an interview with one of the gang members sixty years after the fact. In a way very interesting, but for me it didn’t really work in the end and it mostly made me feel that the story lacked proper cohesion. There were also facts being repeated and not everything was linear; again not a bad thing on its own, but it ended up bothering me. Don’t get me wrong, the story behind Heresy is fascinating and learning about a gang of female outlaws in the 1870s was a true pleasure. I just wasn’t completely convinced by the writing style or format, and with the story dragging in parts it wasn’t the easiest read. If you like slower paced stories and Western inspired historical fiction stories, you would probably enjoy Heresy though.

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Margaret Parker and Hattie LaCour never intended to be outlaws, but after they lose everything to a greedy neighbor their family is left without a penny. As women alone they only have a few choices, and they don’t see marriage or lying on their backs for money as an option. They opt for holding a gun. Together with a few others, they form the first and only all-female gang in the American West… And though the newspapers refuse to give them credit, their actions don’t go unnoticed. Will they finally have to face the consequences?

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The idea of a historical fiction read with a Western vibe about a gang of female outlaws sounded absolutely fascinating, so I’ve been looking forward to Heresy. While I still think the idea behind this story is fascinating, somehow I wasn’t able to enjoy the execution as much as I thought I would. Between the slower pace, lack of cohesion and parts that dragged, it took me a relatively long time to reach the final page. And while I rooted for Margaret and her gang, I also somehow just wanted to get it over with… And that’s never a good feeling. I do think this was mostly me though, so if you don’t mind a slower pace and an unusual format, you will probably enjoy this one.


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BOOK REVIEW: No Country For Old Men – by Cormac McCarthy

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Title: No Country For Old Men
Author: Cormac McCarthy
Genre: Thriller, Crime, Western
First published: July 19th 2005
Finished reading: April 1st 2014
Pages: 309
Rating 1,5

“You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday dont count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? Your life is made out of the days it’s made out of. Nothin else. You might think you could run away and change your name and I dont know what all. Start over. And then one mornin you wake up and look at the ceilin and guess who’s layin there?”

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I must be honest and say I wasn’t planning on finishing No Country For Old Men. I actually started reading this one a few months ago, but couldn’t grow into the book and left it. The lack of punctuation, Southern dialect and too many point of views without any explanation who the characters are… It all made me just want to bury the book under a pìle of dust to be never found again. But the fact they made a very succesful movie out of it and a lot of people seem to enjoy the story made me pick it up again. I would be lying if I said I liked it, but I admit the story became a little better later on. Although now finished it, I would never touch this one again.

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The three main characters of this book are Llewelyn Moss, Anton Chigurh and Ed Tom Bell. In the beginning we don’t know who the story is really about, and it’s quite confusing. Would it be Llewelyn Moss, who found a bunch of dead Mexicans in the desert with a briefcase full of cash with them? Or is it Anton Chigurh, who is trying to get the cash back at all costs, revealing himself as a coldblooded serial killer? But no, it is Ed Tom Bell, the sheriff, who we follow in the end. Being a war veteran, he has some issues of his own, but he seems to know what he is doing. There are a lot of deaths showing up in his jurisdiction though lately, and he is trying to find out who is guilty. Both Bell and Chigurh are trying to find Moss, and Moss has even more people hunting him…The money he found was drugs-related and those people aren’t the ones you want to play with. Moss isn’t able to hide forever, but Chigurh seems a mastermind in disappearing. Will Bell ever find him?

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I guess I only finished No Country For Old Men because I literally forced myself to read it until the end. I didn’t enjoy it, and the language he used annoyed me right until the very end. It might be that he impersonated the Southern dialect perfectly, but even as a philologist I just couldn’t enjoy the story. The lack of punctuation and spelling just got on my nerves. Part of the problem was that I felt almost confused about what the story really was about and even who was talking at certain points. So all in all I would only recommend this one to my potential enemies.