Wednesday, 15 June 2016

A Fine Line: The Beginning

A Fine Line: The Beginning

by J.C. Brennan

4 out of 5

Take a winding, mystical journey with William Thomas Healthaway II, a Union Solider, as he tries to make it through the battle at Pickett's Mill alive. The battle was brutal and treacherous. But William and the friends he picks up along the way; would soon find out that the war was less complicated and demanding in comparison to what they were about to experience just by being themselves. The "Crew" come together to face the biggest mystery of their lives; who they really are and their history. The line between coincidence and fate is tested in this entrancing tale of the supernatural and unknown.

Despite being in the middle of the Civil War, William Healthaway gathers new friends. There is a natural bond between them all, and they come to terms with why they have been brought together, and just what they are capable of.

This is a very pleasant read, set in America in the late 1800's, it follows William as he fights one of the last battles of the Civil War. It gently builds to fill in the histories of his best friend, Buckner; the escaped slaves that save his life; the surviving men of his unit.
The first half is a nice historical novel, exploring the end of the war and William's return home, and the adventures he and his friends have along the way, with only the smallest hints of what is about to happen.
After they have all awakened and experienced their inborn gifts, their world becomes bigger, and their hidden history much more interesting.

It's hard to explain - I think both the strength and the weakness of this book is that there is no fixed plot.
Sure, it's loosely connected to the Civil War, and the awakening of their powers. It established the Damned as the threat, and the history of the Ancients; but there's no climactic scene, just the building of the family. It feels less like an adventure in itself, and more of a foundation for something to come.
Near the end, it is mentioned that the characters take the time to write their histories down - I wouldn't be surprised if "A Fine Line" is the result.

Another downside for me was the timeline in the second half of the book. This is a long book at nearly 400 pages, but the second half still felt somewhat rushed.
After Billy and Autumn are born, it suddenly jumps forward 10 years. I understand that these children are important, and the story had to progress to the stage where they were old enough to have their own awakening, but... that was just it, the story didn't progress. Billy and Autumn were ten years older, but their parents, friends and community hadn't changed. They hadn't learnt anything new, made any progress with trusting the newest members of the family, or developed any relationships. They haven't even realised they're not ageing.
Then it does, and it is satisfying developments, but it's all bundled in together and I confess I was quite lost. I wasn't confident that the timeline was always moving forward, it felt like it was jumping forward to when the kids were useful, because the plot needed it; then back to cover the romances and weddings, because the story needed it.
There are parts that are glossed over quite quickly. For example, when Autumn is kidnapped by the Damned, and Zachariah rescues her - was that it? A paragraph with no details on how? The exciting stuff cut out?
<<spoiler>> And a couple of sentences to kill off William's daughters? I'm assuming it was them that died of scarlet fever, it was mentioned so briefly I had to read it again. <<spoiler>>

Overall, this is an enjoyable story that focuses on the importance of the family you have, and the one you chose. It has a real feeling of community, of being able to do anything together.
I felt this book could have been expanded to be a whole series, instead of a brief glimpse into the lives of these special people. 

Goodreads link

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