Review requested by the author.
Jessica’s peaceful post-exam summer is interrupted when she suddenly receives the news of her great-grandfather Peter passing away and bequeathing her a castle in the West Country. Stunned, she travels down with her grandparents only to be met with a property a lot grander and a much more hostile extended family than she could have ever expected. Not only that – she also begins to hear things. Things like ghosts whispering to her about the devastating secrets of the Kidd castle and the horrors her ancestors were involved in. While the haunting atmosphere may be too much for her grandparents, Jessica nevertheless chooses to save the Kidd castle from her relatives who want to redevelop the land and live in it – it is hers by virtue of her great-grandfather’s will, after all. However, very soon, she comes to a realisation that she isn’t the sole inhabitant of the property. What business does Diane Kell, a half-mad Romani, have in the area? And what are the motives of her nephew, Joe? Also – what is the net and why does it only seem to affect him and Jessica?
If one looks at the Kidd family as a whole, it becomes clear that Nick, Peter’s father, is the antagonist of the series. He manipulates the “net” – a source of magic that I don’t fully understand myself and that apparently runs in the Kidd family – to manipulate business deals, races and most of all, women in his family. Jessica, quite correctly, sees his actions as rape, when the net reveals the past to her, relative by relative. She is horrified and devastated by the revelations. Nick is followed by Peter, his son and arguably, the protagonist of the story. Peter has been emotionally manipulated by Nick for most of his youth and adolescence – so when he’s finally free, he swears to never use the net in fear of becoming a monster like Nick. However, that does not do him much good.
Peter’s story is closely intertwined with the story of his cousin Catherine – they have a mind-link, paralleling that of Jessica and Joe’s. I must warn those bothered by incest – Peter and Catherine do have a star-crossed relationship (Slight spoiler here, sorry!). Catherine is my favourite character – she is a smart and honourable junior editor turned writer turned WWII correspondent who loved her family more than anything. Which makes her story all the more tragic.
David is a friend and has kindly offered me a copy of “Gifted” for an impartial review. The book manages to compile a story of several generations of one family into 225 pages. Jessica’s ancestors are all complex characters and it is debatable as to who the villain of the story is. The ending makes it seem like it is the first book in a series, which would be really cool. The premise is rather promising and I would really like to learn more about the net and Peter’s science experiments with it. On the other hand, however, David did tie up quite a few loose ends so it is debatable as to how well the story of the Kidd castle would do as a dilogy or a trilogy. If more books are written on the subject, I won’t say no!
The first half of the book is admittedly hard to get into – mostly because of the large amount of characters and initial confusion as to the chapters’ POV. Most chapters are told from either Jessica’s or Peter’s POV, though there are several other ones. It became easier to differentiate as the book went on, though – David writes distinctive narratives really well. I do believe, however, that Jessica’s chapters could have been better in first-person point of view. That wasn’t a big thing, though, and I have enjoyed the book. My rating is 7.5/10
Catherine, as explained above
Jessica and her grandparents – they’re adorable!
“What could be worse for one’s mental health than becoming obsessed with the interior workings of one’s own mind?”
Jessica – Hannah Murray
Joe – Sebastian Stan
Peter – James Spader
Catherine – Natalie Dormer
You would like “Gifted” if you liked:
“The Lynburn Legacy series” by Sarah Rees Brennan
“The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern
“In Your Eyes” by Joss Whedon