I haven’t entered many book challenges as I’m sort of new to all this, but I really wanted to sign up for the Gothic Reading Challenge hosted by Susan B. Evans of Well-Mannered Frivolity. I mean castles, scary branches and girls with hair blowing in their face, what’s not to love? I chose to read Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer. Well, not really I just started reading it and realized it totally fit this challenge.It’s like an episode of The X-Files or the Twilight Zone. Plus I like reading about middle of nowhere Texas towns.
Tansy Piper’s mother is like the female Stephen King, so for inspiration for her books they end up moving a lot. The latest move is from San Francisco to Cedar Canyon Texas where she mopes about hating the small town life. It’s the kind of town where all the teens her age grew up with each other since kindergarten so she feels left out. Fighting loneliness she also struggles with the grief of her grandfather’s dementia. Not to mention her new house is said to be haunted, it even has a turret and everything, but things change for her when she finds a pocket watch, a journal and a small crystal pendant in the cellar. They seem to have a life all their own. Not only that, but when Tansy an aspiring photographer looks through her camera’s viewfinder it’s as if she time travels to past memories of her grandfather and Henry the young man who haunts her house. While in these past memories she inhabits the body of Isabel (hence the title of this book.) It becomes hard for her to differentiate her feelings from Isabel’s. It’s interesting because as she spends more time in the past her present starts to fade literally. Her present becomes grey while the past is vibrant with color. It’s as if Henry is enticing her to stay with him. If she gives in she has a feeling she can never come back.
Well at first glance this book just seems like a contemporary tale. It is, but definitely Gothic. It’s not set in a castle, but it’s a once abandoned castle-like house complete with creepy cellar. This whole book is full of mystery and suspense. No one seems to know who the real Henry was and the mystery behind his death. It’s all just a spooky legend that unfortunately unravels for Tansy. He is a ghost but we as the reader never really see him in the present world. In the present he comes as a nightingale. Constantly Tansy feels threatened by Henry. His love is obsessive and tyrannical at times. He makes a lot of demands on Isabel that seems to transcend to her. Tansy experiences a lot of disturbing dreams and things she can’t explain she starts to think she has schizophrenia. The narration is sentimental because it has a lot to do with the memories of her grandfather who she dearly loves. There was a lot of anger, sorrow and terror that is present in Gothic novels. Often times Tansy feels panic that she will not come back to the present world. Our heroine is lonely, and pensive, and she suffers more because she feels afraid to ask for help.
Unique and unusual
I like that since Tansy is a photographer we get a lot of photography lingo and vocabulary. I also love the fact that all the characters seem equally fleshed out. Her closest friend in town Beth, is a thirteen-year-old genius who constantly quotes Shakespeare. Even though the story is about the Tansy-Isabel-Henry dynamic, it still manages to be about everyone else in that small town. Don’t worry Henry isn’t the only one vying for her attention. After all, there has to be someone in the present world fighting for her to stay. This book just had that almost tangible feeling to it. As if you could actually feel the suspense and taste the mystery. A lot had to do with the poems in the journal she found and in a way this book reminded me of Chime by Franny Billingsley. And while I seem to be the only person who actually dislikes that book I feel that Through Her Eyes did the whole poetic-Gothic-suspense-mystery thing much better than Chime. I mean time-travel can be annoying because it has the propensity to get confusing and aggravating, but it wasn’t in this book. The reading flow wasn’t hindered by any of the poems or other worldly experiences. It just flowed and the closure we feel in the end is pretty awesome. Check out some other reviews and then read it, because it’s scary cool.