DiscoverHistorical Fiction

Canary and the Mothman

By

Worth reading 😎

Promising book with sympathetic hero journeys into confusion and ends as a cliffhanger.

This book held so much promise. I read the first chapter before agreeing to read and review the entire book, and I was excited to start. Jesse, narrating from first-person POV, was a likable character who immediately earned my sympathy. There was no mention of this being a cliffhanger with another book to follow, but to be honest, by the time I reached the end, I was so confused, it didn’t matter. I’m tempted to give this book two stars, but I’m erring on the side of generosity because I think it was well-written (when it made sense).


Although the book description mentions owls and chameleons as an integral part of the book, the first mention of “owlness” doesn’t occur until Chapter 21. It takes a while before it is explained fully, but in a nutshell: the owls are wise and speak to inequities while the chameleons deceive people for their own gain. Jesse is described as a canary, because he doesn’t speak up, but that seems to go against the concept of the canary, the symbol of early-warnings. 


At first, Jesse relates his life at home with Granny and the rest of the Ridge family and it sounds like hell on earth. There were some great comments that made me chuckle, like: “Ammo was not cheap, but Granny was, therefore, we were allowed only one bullet or shotgun shell per hunt.” Later, when referring to the local shop owner who has been widowed four times, Jesse observes: “It seems that Mrs. Livingston had a condition that predisposed her to an extended longevity when compared to her marital counterpart.” It was at this point that I thought to myself, this eight-year-old, uneducated boy has an awfully advanced vocabulary. That was when I decided that this story probably would have been better told in third-person. 


The author had some thoughtful commentary on life that I found was well-worded: “Now, freedom is a fickle concept. To some it means many choices, to others a single choice, but more often than not it comes about because there is no choice.” Related to that, Jesse later says: “Too often the could-have-beens become the never-wases, and the reality of it all is that you are here now because of the choices that you have made or the choices you allowed others to make on your behalf.” 


Chapter 10 is when I noticed a sudden shift in POV. Now it was third-person, following Locke, Jesse’s uncle as he goes to buy his new dog. It was a little jarring, but I was okay with it. After that, it went back to Jessie’s POV. Later, it switched to Benjamin, Jessie’s little brother. That was weird. It got weirder. Somewhere in Chapter 16, I became aware that POV was switching indiscriminately between Jessie first-person and Jessie third-person, and it was maddening. It got so that I wasn’t sure who was talking anymore. And then postcards started arriving. Or did they. I’m really not sure; they could have been figments of Jessie’s imagination. 


You see, Jessie became an unreliable narrator and I couldn’t figure out what was happening anymore. I didn’t know if he was talking/thinking or if the third-person narrator was. I didn’t know what was real and what was imaginary. Even the timeline became erratic, jumping into the future and then back to the past. It was utterly disorienting and frustrating. I still liked Jessie, but I didn’t have the patience to try to work out what was happening. When it finished, ending as a cliffhanger, I was furious. I felt tricked into trying to unravel something that was ultimately indecipherable. After spiraling into confusion, I was not even offered a conclusion.



Reviewed by

I am a writer, editor, proofreader, and an avid reader.

Checkin’ on Business

About the author

Emory Moon, debut Colorado author. I hope you enjoy my debut release Canary and the Mothman. This, based on true events novel, is the first book in the Canary Trilogy. view profile

Published on October 31, 2020

Published by FOwlbird Publishing

70000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Historical Fiction

Reviewed by