Review: She Looks Pale; Kate Rigby (Novella)

A convincing and poignant short story (4 stars)

Source- the author provided me with a copy of this novella in exchange for a review

Kindle Direct- May 10th 2012

23 pages (approx 10,000 words)

I must confess that I don’t always get on with Novella’s. I think this is down to the fact that as a reader you generally have such a short time to engage with the plot and the characters, and this can sometimes be to the story’s detriment. Needless to say, because of my past experience with novellas and despite the inherently appealing premise for this one, I did approach it with something not akin to caution.

I needn’t have worried. This was excellently written with some beautifully flowing language that still managed to capture the child narrator’s voice in a convincing fashion without coming across as remotely twee or fanciful. I think that was one of my initial reservations with this book actually, but thankfully the author pulls the voice off particularly well and the short plotline was very well paced throughout.

This is a remarkably sad short story, which is all the more impressive as it manages to convey so much in so few pages and as a reader you completely connect with what is going on. It is a tale of a modern day child who is held a prisoner by the very old-fashioned beliefs of her parents. Narrated from Hannah’s perspective the reader realises that her parents have some dangerous beliefs about today’s society, but that in shielding their daughter from them, they are ultimately doing her more harm than good. The ending is definitely memorable and it really resonated with me.

Though it isn’t possible in a story of this length, I would have perhaps liked to know a little bit more about what led Hannah’s parents to have such beliefs in the first place- but that is the beauty of such a short story- it inevitably lets the reader draw their own conclusions, which I liked. I can’t see how this would have been made any better for being longer in length either, that actually may have spoiled it entirely.

As far as novella’s go, this is one of the strongest that I have encountered in a long time; I really loved the author’s fluid writing style and can heartily recommend this if you are looking for a short, memorable read.

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