YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: September 1st 2009
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Silver star (3/5 stars)

Synopsis: Sylvie Davis is a ballerina who can’t dance. A broken leg ended her career, but Sylvie’s pain runs deeper. What broke her heart was her father’s death, and what’s breaking her spirit is her mother’s remarriage—a union that’s only driven an even deeper wedge into their already tenuous relationship.

Uprooting her from her Manhattan apartment and shipping her to Alabama is her mother’s solution for Sylvie’s unhappiness. Her father’s cousin is restoring a family home in a town rich with her family’s history. And that’s where things start to get shady. As it turns out, her family has a lot more history than Sylvie ever knew. More unnerving, though, are the two guys that she can’t stop thinking about. Shawn Maddox, the resident golden boy, seems to be perfect in every way. But Rhys—a handsome, mysterious foreign guest of her cousin’s—has a hold on her that she doesn’t quite understand.

Then she starts seeing things. Sylvie’s lost nearly everything—is she starting to lose her mind as well?

Review: The Splendor Falls was a suspenseful read but a let down. The story starts off slowly, I don’t mind. But when I was more than 3/4 into the book and the plot was still slow, I begin to ask myself why I am bothering to read this book in the first place. I shall discuss the good points about The Splendor Falls first and elaborate more about the flaws later. The Splendor Falls is a combination of humor, history, romance, and paranormal. The setting is both beautiful and brooding, I was so intrigued about the history of the town. The descriptions are so vivid, they leap right off the page. Sylvie was an interesting protagonist, given her background. She was likable, for the most part, and completely realistic with her stubbornness and difficulties. She is strong, exquisite and is able to come back up despite her setback.

There are two guys who catches the Sylvie’s eye, Shawn and Rhy. Shawn was a stereotype popular guy, president of the Teen Town Council while Rhy was a geologist, the mysterious one, whom I loved. But I found Sylvie too fickle, one moment she liked Rhy and Shawn the next. When she finally chooses who she likes, I found that too sudden. The other characters consisted of the annoying Aunt Paula, the even more annoying daughter of the cook/Paula’s business partner, Andie and a few other girls who are part of the Teen Town Council. It’s hard to describe the spirit sightings and other unexplainable events, on one hand, they made the plot more interesting and kept me on the edge of my seat. But I am left with questions and I don’t think they were fully answered. The background information is given a little here and there and up to readers to connect the dots. I found myself trying to piece together the whole thing but it made me even more confused.

The Splendor Falls so lengthy and I felt it could have been shorter. Some of the details, like the dog’s actions, could have been left out. Readers don’t need to constantly know what Gigi (the dog) was doing. There was such a slow build to the final scene that when if finally occurred it was anti-climatic. By the final scene, I was bored out of my mind, I just wanted to finish the book, know the ending and probably not attempt to ever read it again. When I finished the book (within a day), I was unsatisfied. I read 500+ pages and the ending is so quickly wrapped up and not very exciting.

I do have unanswered questions though, like did Sylvie’s dad know the truth about everything? What was his role in this whole thing? What happened to the diary she found? I admit I practically speed-read through the last few pages of the book so I might have missed this. One teeny thing that bothered me was that Sylvie looked up her family history in a book when there were laptops and most likely to have Internet access. A simple Google search might have sped things up faster.

Readers, whether or not you should read this book, I shall I leave that for you to judge. I have mixed feelings about this book; the writing was exceptional but I did not find the plot good. I am looking forward to Rosemary Clement-Moore’s future works.

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