DiscoverHistorical Fiction

Horatio’s Promise

By

Not for me 😔

Strong on character and sense of place, Horatio's Promise delivers presence but plot needs direction



One of the first things I noticed when reading “Horatio’s Promise” was the vast array of characters that Gill has created to inhabit this fictional world. Creating a whole town and the interactions between all of these people takes a lot of effort as they are all distinct. As a reader you get a clear picture of the town that Alfred Spellman, our "hero", inhabits for the summer.


Gill’s descriptions at times were just great: Gill tells us about one character Alfred encounters by saying “the square little woman is reminiscent of an untidy bullet” which manages to tell the reader much about that character’s personality in a wonderfully succinct way. This is also true of the description of place that Gill uses throughout the book and I would say this is this writer’s strength. Their use of language is accomplished and precise.


However, I found the plot a little muddled and at times, was not totally clear of the purpose of the book. Dialogue between characters was evocative in that it gave you the essence of that individual but some interactions to me felt underdeveloped and too brief to glean any real clues to the story. I was unclear on what was meant to be revealed if anything and some of these scenes ended somewhat abruptly in my opinion.


There was gentle humour in the book and Alfred Spellman is not a man to be taken too seriously but there are also some very dark themes and the juxtaposition of the two did not sit easily, working against each other. This was also the case with the plot and subplots that Gill has incorporated, all vying for attention. I felt like too much was trying to be achieved and that this complicated the narrative, making it too busy and, on occasion, a little baffling.


I feel that Gill has much skill as a writer in terms of character creation and description – some lines were sublime – but there was too much going on in terms of the storylines within the book and this made it a tangled read for me.

Reviewed by

I am Rachel and I have a website where, amongst other stuff, I blog about books I've read. I was previously an English teacher so books have always been a big part of my life and I read many genres. I love crafts, especially knitting; travel; my kids (I suppose); and writing.

About the author

A lifelong die-hard mystery enthusiast, D. Clark Gill counts the classics such as Ross McDonald, G. K. Chesterton, Isaac Asimov, and Harry Kemelman among personal favorites. Gill’s own previous titles include So Special in Dayville and Madness Between Light and Dark. view profile

Published on December 21, 2020

Published by

80000 words

Genre: Historical Fiction

Reviewed by