Well, I gave it almost 100 pages.
Only very rarely do I not finish a book – I think around 8 years has past since the last time I gave up on one without finishing. In all honesty, I’m busier now than I’ve been through the majority of my life, and have much less reading time as a result, so I just don’t have the time to spend on a book that I’m not enjoying. At another time I may have stuck it out, but I’d not read too much into that – the very fact I decided not to finish Wind Follower by Carole McDonnell likely says more than anything that follows.
The portions of Wind Follower that I managed to read revolve around the late-adolescent son of a warrior clan leader, Loic, who falls in love with Satha, an older woman in her twenties of a different tribe and already considered something of a spinster. The politics of households and differing tribal cultures are eclipsed by spoiled rotten young Loic as he rushes to marry Satha, breaking cultural norms along the way.
Wind Follower feels like a novel still two or three revisions from being ready. The frame of a very interesting story is there, just not the polish necessary to pull it off. McDonnell tries too hard in her descriptions and fails utterly to make the characters interesting. Beyond the first chapter, nothing about Loic is remotely appealing – while there is a lot about Loic that the reader isn’t supposed to like, McDonnell fails to find the line necessary to actually keep the reader interested enough to continue. Not helping is the inconsistency with which she writes – characters suddenly know more than they should and their actions are sometimes totally at odds with the personalities she has built. Satha is particularly inconsistent in both her thoughts and actions – one page she is a strong-willful individual, the next a meek, subservient woman with no adequate justification. Much of the first hundred pages are told in a first person narration with as the Loic and Satha alternatively tell their stories from some point far into the future. Perhaps some of these inconsistencies are due to an unreliable narrator, if so the clumsiness of this execution is equally disappointing.
While the cover doesn’t indicate as much, McDonnell herself calls Wind Follower Christian fantasy. Seeing the potential of an epic fantasy told in something of an African setting had my hopes high, even though I don’t typically read Christian fantasy. I’d not call the religiosity ‘in your face’, but Wind Follower lacks subtly with things a bit on the conservative side for me. Perhaps this is not the direction things go as the story continues, but McDonnell failed to make me want to find out.
I debated posting this or not – after all, I can’t fairly call this a review since I did not read even a third of the novel. In the end, I decided that there isn’t a good reason for me not to post my thoughts on the first 100 pages and why I didn’t read the rest.