There are a lot of nice things about being in a book club. For starters, because my book club is small (there are only three of us, and we’ve known each other since we were 15), it’s a great opportunity for us to have a good catch-up on each others’ lives every few weeks. In the past year, we’ve celebrated family milestones (Courtney’s daughter’s first trip to Disneyland), new relationships (me) and a baby-to-be (Monique). It’s great to see how far we’ve come and so exciting to look forward to everything that’s going to happen next!
The other great thing about being in a book club is that because we take it in turns to pick our next read, we’re often exposed to titles that we may not have chosen for ourselves. It’s because of my book club that I’ve not only found the spectacular young adult novel Eleanor & Park, but also Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Divergent.
This month, however, we decided to do something completely different. Courtney’s mom Dee Van Dyk is a writer, and so we agreed to give the manuscript of her teen-horror novel Sin Eater (a working title) a try. This is the first time I’ve ever been involved with a book that hasn’t been published yet – and the first time I’ve ever been asked for feedback – so it was a pretty cool experience.
I popped the PDF manuscript onto my Kindle and polished it off in a Tuesday night/Wednesday morning reading extravaganza so it would be fresh in my mind for book club. I wouldn’t say that horror is a genre that I’m naturally drawn to, and there’s no denying that Dee’s subject matter is a little darker than I would normally choose for myself, but I had such a great experience reading Sin Eater. It was a really pleasant surprise! Dee’s clearly done her research when it comes to mythology and she’s managed to weave together a compelling tale that explores the themes of good and evil in both present-day and historic settings.
There’s a reporter who plays a crucial part in the plot of Sin Eater and I happen to have some experience in this area, so my main feedback points for Dee were suggestions about how to develop him more fully. I think it would be really cool to insert some more of his ‘voice’ into the story by including some of his newspaper articles, which would also provide additional context for some of the other events that take place as the plot moves forward.
I don’t want to say much more, because this is a work in progress, but I’m so thrilled that Courtney and Dee felt comfortable sharing this book with our group (I know both of you read this blog – thank you). Book club is going to take a short hiatus for a few months while Monique enjoys being a new mama, but rest assured, we’ll be back. And in the meantime, I’m not going anywhere!