Synopsis: Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. It’s the way most people wish to leave the world but when Evie reaches the door of her own private heaven, she finds that she’s become her twenty-seven-year-old self and the door won’t open.
Evie’s soul must be light enough to pass through so she needs to get rid of whatever is making her soul heavy. For Evie, this means unburdening herself of the three secrets that have weighed her down for over fifty years, so she must find a way to reveal them before it’s too late. As Evie begins the journey of a lifetime, she learns more about life and love than she ever thought possible, and somehow , some way, she may also find her way back to her long lost love . . .
This was a rather charming fiction debut from Carrie Hope Fletcher which read a bit like a modern-ish fairy tale.
I really enjoyed the idea of the afterlife where upon death your soul comes face to face with your particular door. Also I liked how the story flitted from the past to the present, and between life and the afterlife.
I liked the names of the characters. It added to the fairy tale atmosphere that the book had, and I liked how there was a theme between the surnames. Also, the character descriptions of Evie and Vincent are very much of Carrie and her boyfriend, Pete. This was probably a self-indulgence due to it being her first novel, but it was quite distracting to the story especially when you find out that Evie has a green coat, something that Carrie is well known for if you watch her vlogs. I found some characters to be quite flat and would have liked them to be explored more, especially their motivations behind their actions. I have to say though, I loved Jim, and he got a bittersweet deal in this book.
A problem I had with the book was the time period in which it was set. This was rather ambiguous. With Evie’s overbearing parents and Evie’s treatment at her workplace, it felt like it was set a few decades ago at least, but then things like mobile phones and jeans would crop up. Also when the story is focused upon the time just after Evie’s death, it doesn’t seem as though society has progressed 50 years.
This book does get stronger as you read. During the first half of the book, especially in the first few chapters, the writing is clumsy in places with run on sentences, as well as there being not enough showing rather than telling. I felt that the description was a bit over the top in places making the sentence construction awkward, and I needed to read some sentences a couple of times to unravel what it was trying to say. There was also what seems to be a shout out to Carrie’s fans, know as Hopefuls, which felt like it was shoe horned in, but if you don’t watch Carrie’s vlogs, you probably won’t notice this. The book could have done with a bit more editing here. However, during the second half of the book, the writing improves and flows much better. It was at this point that I found it harder to put the book down.
An aspect of this book is the magical realism, which I found a bit jarring as it seemed to come from nowhere, and I had no idea that it would be a part of the book. I feel that it could have been hinted more during Evie’s past before it came full blast in the story as it very much read like a straightforward contemporary read. That said, once I was used to the magical realism, it didn’t seem out of place, but that may have been due to the stronger writing in the latter parts.
While the book is categorised as adult fiction, it reads more like a YA book, and Evie seems to be a lot younger than 27. I feel she would have been better to have been about 19/20 especially considering some of the things she’s going through during this time of her life.
Despite its flaws, I really enjoyed this book. I liked the love story between Evie and Vincent which was very sweet, as well as the magical elements that were integrated within the story. There were some standout characters who I would love to have a story of their own, especially Jim as I would love to see what happens when he gets to the afterlife. If we focus on the latter half of the book, Carrie is a very promising author and I look forward to any books that she writes in the future.
My rating: 4/5
“Why should I shatter your wonderful fantasy with my boring reality?”
“Ask me something that will make me think. Something I’ll have to wonder whether I should tell you the answer to or not.”
“When someone looks at you, they only see what’s on the surface and often miss a lot of the details. When someone sees you, they see who you are, what you’re actually about. They see more than what’s there in front of them. They’re willing to find out more, at the very least.”