This book had so much potential! If you saw my status updates you'll know how excited I was for it when I started reading it. However, by the third part of the book I had pretty much lost track of what was going on - and almost stopped caring because of this.
The prose was beautiful, lush and descriptive. Overly descriptive. In many ways, it reminded of of Kirsty Eagar's Night Beach, in that the fantasy part of the story made very little sense but yet was beautifully rendered. Boccacino's Ending was detailed and imaginative, but I kept feeling that he had imagined it so precisely that he assumed we knew exactly how it worked -just as he did - and just had to be shown how it looked.
For example, the creatures in the Ending were described right down to the last tentacle, but I remain in the dark as to what they actually were. I couldn't work out who Mr Whatley was, what Mr Whatley was, why he was sometimes bad and sometimes good and sometimes neither and then there was another bad guy but was he actually the bad guy I don't know and then there were people being blown to bits and ripped apart but that's not unusual or scary just enough to make the main character mildly angry because she has to go on a long quest with Mr Darrow who she loves but oh no she doesn't love and makes a habit of kissing even though his wife is alive but she's actually dead and he loves both of them but then the children are in danger but then they aren't because there's a wedding which all the injured people are attending even though they're sort of dead but they aren't because they don't die but they want to die but not to get blown up and oh god what on earth is happening???
That last paragraph pretty much sums up my feelings towards the last half of the book: it completely lost me. Some books work being nonsensical (Alice in Wonderland; Hitch-hiker's Guide), but even they are somewhat rooted in fact or, at the very least, coherency. That Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling lacks that coherency is hugely disappointing because I honestly adored the first third, and still enjoyed the second. I do love Boccacino's writing style, and perhaps the sporadic nature of the last half is due to his previous work as a poet - I hope that his next fiction attempt makes more sense than this one, because I am not ready to give up on him. I will eagerly read his next novel offering, and in the meantime seek out his poetry to tide me by.
I am determined to like this book, and this author- hence the extra half a star.
Full review here