If Shadows Could Tell (An Aurora Steller Mystery Novel),
by Granthana Sinha
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Today, we’re reviewing If Shadows Could Tell, a thriller/mystery novel, by Granthana Sinha.
So, if you’ve got your favourite drink to hand and are all settled in, let’s begin.
If Shadows Could Tell is a mystery novel set in the quiet and unassuming town of Zircon Drops. When local reporter Janet Clay goes missing, Aura’s friend Suz is adamant that something isn’t right. When Janet’s body is found in unusual circumstances, Aura decides to investigate. However, the more she looks into things, the more things don’t make sense. The race is on to find out what really happened to Janet, however, the truth will reveal some deeply-held and twisted secrets.
While there were various characters mentioned throughout the story, three had much more depth to them.
Aurora Steller (known as Aura to her loved ones) is a creative designer currently between jobs. At first she seemed forgetful, always losing things, but the story also revealed her highly analytical and inquisitive mind. She was always attempting to figure out what had happened to Janet, trying to weave together the mystery of it all. Over time, we learn that she blames herself for her grandfather’s death and now feels like she’s failing people, because she can’t save them in time, just as she couldn’t save him. Watching her desperate attempts to do the right thing by others made me deeply care for her character and hope that she would succeed.
Suz, Aura’s close friend and creative cake designer appeared impatient, always needing to get things done, however, this trait in her contrasted well with the way she cared so deeply about the welfare of others, especially her best friend. Her protective and helpful nature became increasingly apparent as the story unfolded and made Suz a character worthy of rooting for.
Nicolas Davenport, however, was a most unusual character. His first appearance in the book gives the impression that he is a desperate soul, one who hasn’t had much genuine human affection and contact in recent times. However, Aura’s future meetings with him showed a calmer side to him, exploring his past and the depth of grief he had endured throughout his young life. I came to sympathise with his pain and admired his compassion toward others, even in his own times of suffering, when many would easily have become bitter and jaded. In short, I feel I judged him too harshly by his initial impression and was pleasantly surprised to unearth another side of him.
If Shadows Could Tell was a story with many positive aspects. Below are just a few that I noted.
- Aura’s personality was strong and her emotional states were made clear, through her first-person narration, actions, speech, and interactions with others.
- The author made good use of sensory detail, to convey a sense of place, especially Hielo Creek Boulevard and its rundown and shabby state.
- The story had a steady pace, with the mystery unfolding gradually as little clues would pop up, either through research, in conversations with others, or through symbolic representation.
- It was nice to learn more about the kind of person Janet was as the story unfolded, gleaning details from her close friends and acquaintances.
- I particularly enjoyed the scene with Aura and Nicolas driving through the storm (about half way into the book), as it demonstrated a real sense of vulnerability with Nicholas’ character and served to strengthen the bond between him and Aura.
- I also thoroughly enjoyed the church scene toward the end, between Aura and Ivet as it was emotionally charged and beautifully written. There was so much depth to it that I simply couldn’t stop reading.
While there were many positives to the story, there were also a few negative points, which I’ll touch upon below.
- I was never sure how much time had passed between scenes or chapters as this wasn’t made clear. This made it hard to understand the timeline of events. Sometimes, the setting would change without any mention and I had to look back to see if I’d missed a scene because there was no indication that the setting or circumstances of the characters had changed.
- There were so many typos, misspellings, and additional prepositional words used, which caused many sentences to appear jumbled. This near-constantly interrupted the flow of the story and it was a chore to force myself through it at times. I would definitely recommend a good proofread to catch these errors, to ensure a better reading experience.
- The random passages interspersed with the main story had no context and unfortunately only began to make sense toward the end of the book. Before I understood who the passages were referring to, these sections simply felt like interruptions to the main story.
- I found it difficult to believe that Aura was in love with Nicholas all of a sudden, especially as she had only known him for a few days/weeks, as far as I could tell, and even then, they had scarcely spent any time together to bond.
One thing that I found both enjoyable and confusing was the ending. Some things made little sense and weren’t well explained, just left for the reader to try and make sense of. However, there was a beautiful kind of tragedy to the ending, which I also can’t refute.
While reading If Shadows Could Tell, three particular phrases stood out to me and made me think.
1) ‘You can’t run away from what happened. Pretending will only make it worse.’
When a problem enters our lives, it’s only natural for us to sometimes want to run away from it, be it a physical problem or a painful memory. If we pretend the problem doesn’t exist or that an event never happened, then we never actually deal with the range of built up emotions within us.
2) ‘Real people- with actual real lives- each having a different story to tell, a different set of problems to deal with, and a different, unique way of looking at the same things.’
This particular quote made me pause to consider this often-forgotten truth, that we are all dealing with our own issues the best way we know how. Nobody is free from problems of some kind.
3) ‘The path you follow depends on what you believe the truth really is.’
This felt especially relatable. In modern times, our beliefs are often mistaken for truths because we desperately want them to be. These beliefs offer us a sense of security and influence how we make our lives.
If Shadows Could Tell was a mysterious and tragic story, with themes of loss, grief, and how much you can really know someone. While it had many engaging aspects such as realistic characters and a well-developed mystery plot, I feel it was let down by the sheer amount of writing errors, which constantly interrupted the flow and pacing of the story.
My rating: 3.5 stars.
Recommended to: those looking for an interesting mystery novel, with a lot of heart.
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