review

Book Review: The Falling Woman – Pat Murphy

This book was recommended to me by a best mate who, like all best mates do, knows me ridiculously well. She said “I know you’ll like the premise, but I’m interested to hear what you think about the rest of the book.”

Well, my friend was right. I LOVED the premise. Sadly, I think that set me up to expect a completely different book, and that shot me in the foot.

Without going into spoileriffic details Elizabeth is an archeologist who also sees flashes of people of the past. She’s used this to get “lucky” in her searches for artefacts and interpretation of what they could mean. She’s now down in Mexico uncovering Mayan ruins with a fellow colleague and a team of grad students.

Her estranged adult daughter Diane has also started to see things, and after upheavals in her own life, feels compelled to travel to Mexico and reconnect with her mum.

At the same time, one of Elizabeth’s ghosts on the digsite, a Mayan priestess named Zuhuy-kak, has started to see her, too…

Read that? That’s awesome! How cool, what an ability and what a fairly humdrum way to use it! But do not fall into the same trap as me – the superpowers and ghosts are not what the book is about.

The writing itself was good, and considered objectively so, as it won a Nebula. But unfortunately for my arse it wasn’t my taste, and that says a lot more about me than the book.

For me, it was like the book started, spent the majority of its pages slowly setting out a table with characters and their relationships as wares, tensing some a little, then exploding in the action I was craving right at the end. Because I am a simple creature, what I’m sure for many people would be compelling character development with the painting of a difficult relationship between the two women caused in part by the husband/father and how they grew to understand each other, and how that’s reflected in the relationship of Zuhuy-kak with her own family and city, ‘dragged’ for me. I sadly wasn’t invested in the characters. In fact, this exploration of the womens’ relationship was the entire point of the book, but it seemed to fly over my head as I waited for more spookiness or the characters to form a crimesquad or something.

I was reading this book and hoping for another, and that’s entirely my problem. 

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