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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Gravediggers of Champagne County

The midnight blue in the background of the cover implies darkness, but there is also a mysterious brightness in the foreground which intrigued me.   The Gravediggers of Champagne County by Elizabeth Evans Kirk sounded like an unusual novel.    This is why I requested a free copy for review from Bookplex.


At the outset I was charmed by Violet, the young protagonist, who spends her time at a cemetery.  She seemed entertaining and quirky.  Yet as the novel progressed, it became clear that she was shadowed by dark past experiences.  The cemetery was her refuge.   When she began to see and hear ghosts, I wondered whether it was possible that she was hallucinating.   I expect that readers will decide for themselves on this issue.

 I lean toward Violet having an active imagination rather than actually seeing ghosts.  One of the ghosts she thought she saw was supposed to be a trapeze artist, but later in her account she was a tightrope walker.  They are both aerialists, but they are separate specialties.   As a circus performer, that ghost would have known the differences between a trapeze artist and a tightrope walker, yet Violet wouldn't have known.  So it's very likely that the ghost was a fictional character that Violet created.

I really liked Violet’s friendship with the supportive gravedigger known to her as Albert.  Revelations about this character over the course of the narrative gave him increasing stature.   I was very impressed with him by the time I finished the book.

It bothered me that Albert’s dialogue was inconsistent.  When he’s speaking to Violet he’s sometimes more colloquial than he is at other times.   For example, why should he say “ya” instead of you in one sentence, and be back to saying you again in the very next sentence?

 There were other editing problems.  I found a dozen instances of the usual copy editing mistakes which included missing words, spelling errors and incorrect grammar.  I’m hoping that future novels in this series are better edited.

Since I found Violet so engaging, I wanted to know about her life after the story line of this novel was resolved.   So despite the flaws noted above, I would chalk up Elizabeth Evans Kirk’s first novel as a qualified success.   


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