Tuesday, March 8, 2011
The Coffins of Little Hope
published by: Unbridled Books
publish date: April 5, 2011
Timothy Schaffert has created his most memorable character yet in Essie, an octogenarian obituary writer for her family’s small town newspaper. When a young country girl is reported to be missing, perhaps whisked away by an itinerant aerial photographer, Essie stumbles onto the story of her life. Or, it all could be simply a hoax, or a delusion, the child and child-thief invented from the desperate imagination of a lonely, lovelorn woman. Either way, the story of the girl reaches far and wide, igniting controversy, attracting curiosity-seekers and cult worshippers from all over the country to this dying rural town. And then it is revealed that the long awaited final book of an infamous series of YA gothic novels is being secretly printed on the newspaper’s presses.
The Coffins of Little Hope tells a feisty, energetic story of characters caught in the intricately woven webs of myth, legend and deception even as Schaffert explores with his typical exquisite care and sharp eye the fragility of childhood, the strength of family, the powerful rumor mills of rural America, and the sometimes dramatic effects of pop culture on the way we shape our world.
I found my feelings on this book to be hard to put my finger on. I liked it, but I found it to be kind of bizarre. The world that Schaffert created seemed like it came out of TV show or something. It made me think of The Andy Griffith Show meets The Elizabeth Smart Case on Court TV meets A Series of Unfortunate Events (if that series of books ever got as popular as like Harry Potter). Is any of that really a bad thing? I wouldn't say so, it creates a pretty interesting mash up.
Essie was a unique character. She reminded me of like Aunt Bea on The Andy Griffith Show, but she was an obituary writer so she had that sort of morbid character. I kept flipping back to make sure it was a guy who wrote the book, because I thought it was an interesting perspective to write the book from. Of all the characters to tell the story, the 80 year old obituary writer of the town probably isn't the obvious choice.
This book has a lot of interesting little topics in it about book publishing, whether or not they're actually true they do give you something to think about. What it must be like to work for the printing companies that print the books like the Harry Potter books, what environmentalists think about our book obsessions, etc.
Would I recommend it? Sure, I've already told a couple of people to keep an eye out for it. It's a book that's stayed on my mind the last few days so I'd have to think that's a good sign.