After Alice Fell
By Kim Taylor Blakemore
Riveting, skin-crawling close.
What’s so impressive and beautifully unique about Kim Taylor Blakemore’s writing is its lens. Her signature attention to sensory detail is so sharp and specific that I want to call her out as a writer that’s created an entirely new point-of-view category. More than merely first-person, her novels are close first-person, and her latest, After Alice Fell, is a riveting achievement.
It’s the story of Marion, a Civil War nurse recently returned from the horrific daily witness of blood, maiming and death. Marion is only just returned home when she’s called upon to identify the body of her sister, Alice, who has died, mysteriously fallen from an asylum rooftop. The accident doesn’t make sense to Marion who grew up taking care of her creative, sensitive, off-balanced sister and so understood her skewed perspective of the world. So begins Marion’s dogged search for the truth behind her sister’s death. This singular purpose drives mounting suspense; the sharp focus brought to every creak and wallpaper tear and god awful sticky humid air pulls the reader in close. Guilt and secrets and betrayal hamper and hang up Marion as she inevitably creates enemies. The author serves up setback after setback for Marion, forcing me to keep the pages turning in the hope she’d make it. She does, and the journey feels personal.
I loved the historical backdrop of the post-Civil War. The setting was a terrific canvas for Blakemore to show her historical fiction research chops in which her details enhance, but never get in the way, of an excellent story. (I received a free copy of this book with no obligation to post a review.)