The Final Dawn (Unabridged)
Author: Alice Catherine Carter Date: 2015 Narrator: Melanie Fraser Provider: Alice Catherine Carter Running Time: 2 h 05 min Audible Enhanced Audio In Joseph Stalin’s early 1930s Russia, an entire class of people were at risk of exploitation. Valeyria and Alexei Yolkin were members of one such family. It was a freezing day when the first Yolkin siblings turned on another. With the young children listening in fear below in the darkness, they heard their uncle Eduard giving orders to kill their mother and father. The only girl, Valeyria, aged just seven, had a sudden desire for revenge, it consumed her. She hated her uncle Eduard and she wanted him to die – by her hands, if she could. But would her thirst for revenge lead her to her final dawn and cloud her judgment? Will she take it too far and turn on those she is supposed to love?
It is easy to write about books I love, because I can enthuse and blatantly gush. It is easy to write about books I really dislike, because I can get very specific concerning the things that bothered me. But …what about a book that falls somewhere in between? This is such a story …so, let me begin with the things I liked and even admired.
This is a debut novel, and, as a first effort, is extremely respectable! For one thing, the premise of the story is excellent, and founded strongly in events that did occur during the October Revolution. (coincidentally, I read this book shortly after finishing a nonfiction of that revolution and its effects on Russia.)
The writing is excellent, and, upon occasion, close to brilliant. The author is an accomplished wordsmith, and if she seemed to be trying a bit too hard on occasion, that will work itself out with practice ..and I hope we will see many more examples of that “practice”! Her presentations of settings and action scenes are particularly good.
Now, for the things that didn’t please this reader quite as much. The first rule I learned when trying to write was : “show, don’t tell”. The authors tells us too much, and shows us too little. I would have been happier if this book had been 5 times as long as it was (it came close to being a longish novella), and would have enjoyed watching he r construct her main characters bit by careful bit. I know she can, because on those occasions when she does *show* motivation through action, she does so spectacularly. I am thinking specifically of the scene in which Valeria (a driven character if there ever was one!) is introduced to the art of hunting. That scene was absolutely stunning in every respect, which makes me have high expectations of this author.
The other thing that bothered me is that much of this book takes place during WWII in Russia. True, I don’t think the Germans invaded Moscow, though they came close, and true, the war wasn’t the real theme of this book, but for me, it was like the elephant in the living room that everyone is trying to ignore. I would have been satisfied with passing mentions …references to troop trains, or the Battle of Leningrad …just for the sake of grounding the story in its context. Nothing happens in a vacuum, after all, and surely all of Russia, even the elite, were affected by those events, even if only peripherally.
The narrator has an extremely competent style, and a voice that is delightfully easy to listen to. (It does help that I love listening to a cultured British accent). Her pacing and phrasing were excellent. However, her Russian accents (though probably fairly accurate) were almost too much, too strong. There were times, In fact, when the accent got in the way of understanding the text. Just a subtle hint of an accent would have been enough, especially since most of the characters are Russian. I’ve seen narrators who imply accents in very subtle ways, so that the reader recognizes them, but they never really interfere with the book.
All in all, I am happy to have found this author, and very much look forward to seeing what she will do next. In fact, I rather think she will become a very strong voice in the world of historical fiction. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars, and the narrator as well ..and hope to give far more with the next books!
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for this unbiased review from AudioBookBlast.com