Review: More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

Series: Letters to the Lost #2
Published by: Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN: 1681190141
ISBN 13: 9781681190143
Published: May 2018
Pages: 408
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Related Reviews: Letters to the Lost (Letters to the Lost #1)

Onto the second book I read in a day (but scheduled the review for the day after), we have the same characters, but the focus has moved to Declan’s best mate, Rev, who is the adopted son to two wonderful human beings.

Rev was abused as a child. His mother died close to his birth, and his father was a leader in a church… taking his beliefs to the level of starving and beating Rev into obedience. He was home schooled, never saw a doctor, the works. It’s only when his hand is held on the hot plate of the stove and his arm then broken in his struggles when he tries to run away from home, and his neighbour finally witnesses him vomiting, hurt, and absolutely petrified of his father.

His adoptive parents are beyond lovely and patient. When he first comes to them he can’t sleep for fear his father will come for him, and he’s also been raised to think black people are evil… but through their kindness and intelligence he slowly begins to trust and understand just how many things his father was wrong about. That was all when Rev was about seven.

In this novel he’s now eighteen. The laws restricting his father from him fell away along with his status as a minor, and within weeks of his birthday he receives a letter and then emails from his former-father. As if that isn’t enough his parents have taken in another child – something he’s generally used to – but instead of being a baby or kid it’s now a young teen, who has also been through hell to the point of grabbing a knife for protection and staring at people while they sleep.

Rev also has to be there for his mate who wants to go visit his father in jail for the first time, and then the girl he’s only just met is getting harassed online for being a gamer and her parents are getting a divorce. It’s all going on, and Rev is getting more and more worried he’ll turn out exactly like his father, and hurt the ones he loves.

Through this novel we see people who need lessons and patience in how to view a situation from eyes not their own, and give trust for people from the outside to reassure them that they are not bad, and everything will be okay. The hardest thing is understanding that some people out there aren’t just bad, they’re also misguided into thinking that they really are doing the best for the people they love – and that kettle of fish is so much harder to deal with.

This is a beautiful and hard book, and you just have to focus on the fact there are good people out there, instead of those who are really quite shit. The poor kids in this book. We just need more like Rev and his parents.


SPFBO 2017 – Phase One, my winner

And so I have finally got my final thoughts together for the first phase of SPFBO Year Three, 2017. Since starting back in May I have gone on two trips within Australia for conventions, one overseas to Worldcon in Helsinki with touristing to Belgium, Scotland and England on the side, enrolled in and (so far) completed half of a Diploma (HR), started a new job (month so far and got the hang of it finally), been on a pretty disappointing date, was referred to be diagnosed for Aspergers, and got a new tattoo. Pretty crazy six months.

But enough about all that – you want to know which title I’ve chosen to get through to the final ten of 300 entries! As we know, I first worked my list of 30 down to 8, and this is what I got:

Randy Nargi – A Conspiracy of Shadows – my review – 3/5 stars
Jamie Edmundson – Toric’s Dagger – my review – 3/5 stars
Harrison Davies – Destiny of the Wulf – my review – 3/5 stars

S.J. Madill – Magic Comes to Whiteport – my review – 4/5 stars
Daniel Olesen – The Eagle’s Flight – my review – 4/5 stars
Adam Steiner – The Censor’s Hand – my review – 4/5 stars
Harry Connolly – The Way Into Chaos – my review – 4/5 stars
Graham Austin-King – Faithless – my review – 4/5 stars

From the star rating we can see that it then came down to five titles, but it’s not always as easy as simply rating them by a few stars and writing a review. There’s so many things to look at when picking a winner – how everything fits together technically, overall quality, overall enjoyment… just because something is edited perfectly, does that mean it should get more merit than another? How about when you as a reader need to put aside your personal favourite for something that is a better overall package?

Personally… Magic Comes to Whiteport remains in my head as something I simply liked. The characters, the plot, the writing… all together, it’s just a nice, enjoyable and entertaining read. It was what I wanted at the time, and if I had time to read any of these again on an empty afternoon, it’s the one I’d pick up. Sadly, that’s not the same as recommending it as a winner for a competition.

The Eagle’s Flight and The Censor’s Hand are also of quality. They are solid reads, have very few errors, and do what they set out to do well. They don’t however have the spark that kept me reading, nor that I could put everything I have behind me and back it up to the other judges. But hey, out of 30 coming third and fourth is pretty dang good, guys.

So it comes to Faithless and The Way Into Chaos. It’s so close – so very close, guys. In the end it has to be The Way Into Chaos (and I’m so sorry, Faithless). These do what The Eagle’s Flight and The Censor’s Hand do, but just that little bit better. Editing and experience go a long way in a book, and I’m sure the rest of my shortlist will get there one day very soon. You’ve all done a marvellous job.

‘The Way Into Chaos’ by Harry Connolly is my pick to go into the final ten.

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I rank books out of five stars, judging on overall enjoyment and everything that makes up the novel itself, including cover design, editing and layout. If you would like to discuss the rating I have on any book, please do so on the review post itself.

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