The Daily Monocle

Critical book reviews from a literary skeptic.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Finding Emmaus by Pamela S. K. Glasner

Posted by J. P. Wickwire

Imagine a world where empathy is considered a mental illness; a world where dozens of people are medicated every day for something that doesn't exist. Imagine being so empathetic that you can feel other people's emotions all the time, every day when you walk out of the house. You can sense danger—tell when someone's lying—and more. And because of this, you've been told you were crazy.

Katherine Spencer, a 54 year old Empath, is just discovering her true nature. When, after countless doctors, dosages and side effects, her medications have no effect, Katherine's boyfriend, Danny, walks out on her. Hurt and alone, she decides to pack up and move to a small town called Weaver's Bridge.

Once there, she finds herself undeniably drawn to a country cottage in dire need of repair. Without a second though, she buys the house, only to find a mystery brewing within. And when a psychiatrist friend begins to hint that she might be an Empath, Katherine finds herself on a quest to find the true nature of Empathy.

300 years earlier, a man named Frank Nettleton lived in the same town, in the same cottage where Katherine now resides. After years of being tormented by his wild and intense bouts of emotional instability, Frank comes to realize that he is an Empath, and in order to spare future generations the same pain and confusion he feels, he sets out to create the proverbial bible of Empathy—a quest that consumes much of his adult life.

In this spellbinding historical fantasy, Finding Emmaus, author Pamela S. K. Glasner has proven her talents. Her characterization is wonderful. By the end of this book, I was attached to each character. They all have their own flaws and motives—their own ways of validating their actions and how they accomplish things. Because of this, her characters seem more like people, than flat imitations on a page. The cast is both dynamic and inspiring, and they keep the pages turning.

And while I'll say that Finding Emmaus is definitely a character-driven novel, plot isn't sacrificed. A multitude of story threads are launched from page one, and they continue to weave in and out of each other—hinting here, pulling there—for the duration of the novel. Finding Emmaus reminds me a bit of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, in the sense of the historical and present storylines weaving so effortlessly together… but better.

The prose is also wonderful. I didn't find myself 'snagging' against the words, wondering about the word choice or grammatical errors. Every single word fit perfectly in its own little niche.

It isn't often that you find a good writer who is also a good storyteller, but I'm pleased to say that Pamela S. K. Glasner is just that. With well-developed, dynamic characters, a complicated plot, and beautiful prose, I felt each and every paragraph falling into perfect order—like a puzzle. Finding Emmaus is the first book in a trilogy, and if the author keeps up the good work, she will find in me, a faithful reader.


Buy it/read an excerpt at Amazon
Author's Website

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