I decided to do a Goodreads challenge this year, and set myself the challenge of reading 50 books. Apparently it sends you updates to let you know if you’re on track, and that’s the kind of thing I need. Anyway, the first book I read in 2015 was The Seventh Miss Hatfield, by Anna Caltabiano, which I picked up last year at this book swap. Rather than write two reviews, I’m going to embed my reviews from Goodreads and then there will be spoilers on the blog.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I picked The Seventh Miss Hatfield up at a book swap last August and only just got around to reading it. It looked intriguing, and I don’t know anyone who has heard of it. This book was okay. As the blurb says, it’s about a young girl who is tricked into becoming immortal, and is able to travel through time. Time travel is one of my favourite genre tropes, and I was happy that Caltabiano used it in a way that I hadn’t seen before in any of the vast time travel stories I’ve seen and read. This book is largely a time travel romance with some adventure in it, and I felt that it focused on some elements more than others. I liked that it explored the problems with immortality, but I found that the romance storyline was predictable, and figured out the big twist at the end less than 100 pages into the book. It was only a couple of days ago that I discovered Caltabiano wrote this when she was 17, which gives me hope. There were elements of this book that were promising, and I’m interested to see her grow as a writer, and I’m glad that the Hatfield story will be a series. It’s the sort of series that doesn’t have to pick up where the previous one left off, but work more like Bridie’s Fire. While I didn’t love this book, there’s enough good in it to make me want to read the rest of the series, and I hope that Anna Caltabiano grows as a writer, because she shows promise.
(I gave this book 2 stars, but I follow the Goodreads suggestions and “it was okay” is how I feel about it.)
I didn’t expect Cynthia/Rebecca’s search for the painting to take up the entire book, but it worked well. Cynthia learned that the downfall of immortality is that you can’t be with the person you love. There was evidence of that from the previous Miss Hatfields, but it’s the sort of thing that you need to experience firsthand. From the very beginning it seemed obvious that Rebecca would fall in love with Henley and that the sixth Miss Hatfield was Ruth, but they were thematically linked with the curse of immortality. One worked better than the other, but it mostly worked in spite of its predictability.
I’d like to learn more about the time travel aspect of the series (and it seems that the series is going to follow Cynthia’s journey rather than on a different Miss Hatfield), as well as the mythology behind the Rebecca Hatfields – why pass this power and its burdens onto another? Is there a purpose to keeping the Hatfield line going? If Cynthia drank the last of the water in Miss Hatfield’s possession, will she need to get more? What will be the future of the Hatfield line? It’s these questions that make me more likely to return to this world, and I do think Caltabiano shows promise, so I hope she delivers.
- Bridie’s Fire by Kirsty Murray really is a great book, as are its sequels. Each book follows a different character, and the character from the previous book will pop up as a minor part of the new protagonist’s story. Murray’s books are very much about the Australian experience in different eras, and I also highly recommend Walking Home With Marie-Claire.