Bookshots: 'The Undoing' by Averil Dean

Bookshots: 'The Undoing' by Averil Dean

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Title:
The Undoing

Who wrote it?

If you are looking for a page turner to end this year (or start off the next one!), pick up 'The Undoing'.

Averil Dean, who also wrote the novel Alice Close Your Eyes.

Plot in a Box:

Celia, Eric, and Rory have been friends since childhood. As they get older, their relationship grows even closer, deeper, and more intimate, but also more dangerous. When they decide to buy and renovate The Blackbird Hotel in their hometown of Jawbone Ridge, it seems they'll be closer than ever, but the reality does not live up to the initial fantasy. 

Invent a new title for this book:

The Blackbird

Read this if you liked:

The Girl on the Train by Paul Hawkins or In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Meet the book’s lead:

Though Celia Dark is written about in great detail, she becomes more of an enigma with every new piece of information given. As I learn more about her, I have more questions. After finishing the novel, I am still not sure if I like her, but I am definitely intrigued by her.

Said lead would be portrayed in a movie by:

Rooney Mara

Setting: would you want to live there?

Jawbone Ridge, Colorado. This slanted mountain of a town seems like a fun place to visit, but I don't know if I could stand living there full time. It seems too small and isolated.

What was your favorite sentence?

She could smell the excitement on him, acrid and metallic like the scent of wet pennies.

The Verdict:

The Undoing starts at the end. The first character we meet is Julian Moss. He is about to jump off the edge of a ravine down into the river below. Smoke rises up from the now burned down Blackbird Hotel. The story expands outward and back in time from here, and we meet Kate Vaughn, who has taken over at the Blackbird Hotel with plans to reopen it five years after Celia Dark, Rory McFarland, and Eric Dillon were found dead there. We learn the fates of the characters almost immediately and are left only with the question of why such terrible things happened. The mysterious tragedy crafted by Averil Dean is enough to keep the reader interested and eager to discover more.

Dean's character work is definitely what draws me in the most. Though Celia Dark is written about in great detail, she becomes more of an enigma with every new piece of information given. As I learn more about her, I have more questions. After finishing the novel, I am still not sure if I like her, but I am definitely intrigued by her. A character this complex and hard to pin down is a rarity. Julian Moss is an equally complex, frustrating character, but easier to immediately dislike. Despite this, I can't help but be drawn into his chapters, wondering what he will say or do next. Perhaps the most relatable character for most of the novel is Kate Vaughn. She is an observer who wishes she could take more of an active role in the hearts of the others. She is constantly left of center, and as a reader I feel the same way. 

If you are looking for a page turner to end this year (or start off the next one!), pick up The Undoing. Though the jumps through time can be confusing, I did enjoy getting pieces of the story little by little and filling in the novel's intricate puzzle with each one. Dean's adept storytelling and knack for painting a beautiful picture of the Colorado landscape will leave you breathless in more ways than one.

Christine J. Schmidt

Review by Christine J. Schmidt

Christine J. Schmidt is a writer originally from New Jersey. After receiving her BFA in Dramatic Writing from SUNY Purchase, she worked at Seattle Repertory Theatre as their artistic literary intern. She recently left Brooklyn, where she was a bookseller and events host at WORD, to reside in Los Angeles. She has previously written for New York Theatre Review, and her plays have been read and produced at theaters in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Washington. Coffee is her favorite thing.

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