One is left with very mixed feelings after reading this epic journey of a book. The best way I can describe it would be melodrama turned literary fiction by design, rather than default – or is it the other way round? I’m not sure. But the simple fact is, to put it into very basic terms, it is very long and very descriptive, in the same way that most classic literary fiction is; indeed, Watson seems the sort of author who won’t use ten words when he can use a hundred. That in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, as this book is something of an odyssey for its main narrative character, but I would have to say that the execution leaves this noticeably difficult to work through as a reader – I myself struggled a bit at times, I have to say. Whilst Watson is a very good author, he is an extremely detailed one, which is of course good; however, it takes what I felt was a very scattergun approach, the timeline so mixed up as to make it a little difficult to follow. Story arcs seem to reach their resolution before the book goes back and establishes their character and backstory elements – this felt a little mixed up to me, and had the effect not only of making it feel like it should have reached its natural conclusion and didn’t at times, but also blurred lines between the individual narratives, making it unclear which was primary. Compounded by the long word count, this made it something of an effort to follow.
It is something of a shame, because there are the bones of a very high-quality book – the character development, the storyline, the contrasting dark and light themes; I would have loved to relax and enjoy this book, but I found myself backtracking. The story is a good one, part coming-of-age, part melodrama; its themes are those of dark family secrets; of finding oneself, and learning what one is capable of, both good and evil. Covenant Spring tells a tale of both hope and darkness. Personally, I would like to mix up all its scenes and chapters and put them in a different order – I’ve no doubt then that Watson will have written a work of immense quality and profound poignancy; it genuinely is.
Whilst I don’t like to mention proofing too much, it was impossible to ignore the writing tense used, which seemed to jump back and forth between past and present throughout its entirety, becoming very distracting. This does happen when writing first person, but in this case the transition was continuously alternating across almost every line. Other than that, Watson’s syntax is good, melancholy, dramatic and very dry. This is a book that I would very much like to see polished – then I genuinely believe it would be a tremendous work of literary fiction, worthy of company amongst many which came before it.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: christopher-watson literary-fiction dark melodrama drama family