Thursday, August 4, 2011

Feature: Shadows of Wormwood by T.J. Koll

This week, I am featuring Shadows of Wormwood by the talented T.J. Koll.  T.J. will be by tomorrow (August 5, 2011) with a great guest post!  Be sure to stop by and check that out!  For now, here's what I have to say about this wonderful book...

Shadows of Wormwood
By:  T.J. Koll
ISBN:  9781461094616
Published April 15, 2011 by CreateSpace
Available Format: Paperback, ebook

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Bitsy Cooper isn’t your typical boy-crazy, fashionista thirteen-year-old.  While nursing a tragic heartache, she must endure the disintegration of her parents’ marriage and, now, protect her younger brother from a sadistic bully.  This story, which deals with everything from alcoholism to religion, will tug at your heartstrings and perhaps even teach you a few lessons about life, family, and survival.

It is still refreshing to find an author with such a graceful style.  Koll takes a rich, honest plot and turns it into a beautiful, intriguing tale.  I literally read the entire novel in one sitting, which is hard for me to do these days! 

There are several elements to this story with the main undercurrent being loss.  Bitsy and her family have lost her older brother in the war.  The pain and grief seeps into every part of their lives and brings so many related issues to the surface.  The family seems so overwhelmed; they can barely function together any longer.  The Old Woman lost her young daughter in a tragic accident, which she certainly blames herself for.  As a result, her relationship with her living daughter is strained as well.  Through such a genuine and powerful delivery, it is so easy for the reader to feel every emotion of every character in this novel (yep, I cried...).

I both loved and hated the bit about Harriet the chicken. I’m not sure what it is about animals in books (and movies), but they get me every time!  Obviously, it doesn’t matter what species either.  There is something about having that presence in your life—something you must care for but so often gives you so much more in return.  Just in that rather minor portion of the story, a whole new understanding was introduced about the kind of person the so-called River Witch really was and the sort of person Bitsy was growing into.

There is also the relationship between the siblings and the children and their father.  The connection between brother and sister was so completely normal, yet so telling and fulfilling.  I tell my son all the time he is going to need his sister someday, so he’d better be nice to her!  Of course, he could care less, but the point is that bond between brother and sister adds another layer to the main character and the life around her.  Her father is so completely torn between the loss of his son and his failing marriage.  He just wants to prove his love for his family but doesn’t understand how to achieve that.  I got the feeling that Bitsy and her father were very much alike, they just hadn’t had the opportunity to get to know each other that well.

Aside from all that rambling, I just wanted you to know that this is a beautiful story and you really should read it and see for yourself!! :-)

You can learn more about TJ and his work on his website: