Monday, December 31, 2018

Review: Alive: Shadows of a Living Past

Florence Sterling should be perfectly happy. She’s been given a second chance at life with her beloved husband. But all is not well. She yearns for more children, even though Alex is reluctant. Memories of the day she and her baby were murdered still haunt her. And she can’t shake the feeling she will be separated from Alex again. 

As if in confirmation of her premonition, Alex is called on a dangerous mission to enlist America’s aid in WWII. Trying to distract herself, Florence investigates what really happened when her son died. As she searches, she becomes convinced her son is alive, although witnesses say otherwise. And with each clue she discovers, she unwittingly draws closer to her old enemy—the deranged woman who will stop at nothing to destroy her. 

When Alex goes missing in action, Florence must reach deeply into her faith as she faces her greatest fears. If Alex is lost to the war, will she allow herself to love another man and fulfill her desire to have a family? Or will she remain alone the rest of her life?


I was curious to come into this series in Book 2.  Book 1 refers to a forgotten past, while this title promises to refer to that which is still very much alive.

In a story where there are a million things we should be aware of,, it would be very easy to start this review by saying "I wish I had the information I needed to enjoy this book more."  But Marcia writes in a style that I love, in which you are given necessary information without it being a clunky infodump.

The story with its twists and turns is a fascinating and often portentous one, which an effective suspense-building style.  We are clued into dangers without feeling that the author is trying to hold things back.  And the world-building is clever enough that the reader is drawn in as much  by curiosity about what else we'll find there as driven to follow the story.

Perhaps I am at a disadvantage because of not having read the first book, so I am not sure if the character introductions are handled the same way in each installment.  While I enjoyed so much about the book, the beginning feels slightly ponderous because of hammering in the initial importance of the circumstances in which the story opens.  We are reminded again and again in the first act of the book why we should feel strongly about these characters.  I feel as though it would be more powerful to spread out these reminders.

I will not divulge too much in the interest of letting you explore this storyline, but I highly recommend diving into the world of Florence and Alex and the narrative brilliance that comes along with the way the story goes.

Character Casting

Alexander Sterling: Richard Armitage\

 / Florence Contini: Emma Watson

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