The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood (July 2012)

Benjamin Wood’s debut novel, The Bellwether Revivals, is a well written tale of a young man, Oscar, whose chance meeting with the mysterious Bellwether siblings, Eden and Iris, reshapes his entire life. The novel is ambitious in its scope as it forces the reader to question the reality of Eden’s unlikely, but creepy, talent of healing people through music. But while the idea of music therapy initially is the focus, the novel switches to a psychological study as Iris and Oscar enlist the help of a psychiatrist to try and diagnose Eden. It is at this point in the novel when the steady buildup begins to go off course. As the reader, we are waiting for almost the entirety of the novel for something extraordinary to happen and instead there is a buildup to an ending that is predictable while also being confusing and quite sudden. After the slow quality of the majority of the novel, the ending feels rushed as many important events rapidly occur without any explanation as to what just happened. Oscar’s character is well planned out and he goes through a steady arc that is relatable and incredibly realistic. He comes across plainly as the everyday guy that he is supposed to be. Another character that is done well is Eden; while his creepiness could’ve been a bit more extreme at points, his manipulative character was always five steps ahead of everyone else and he was fascinating to read about. A major issue that could be had with the characters is the portrayal of Iris whose personality jumps back and forth without any explanation as to why she changes and what suddenly makes her revert back to who she was just as suddenly. A couple of the supporting characters had problems finding their purpose in the course of the novel and by the end they fell flat.Overall, The Bellwether Revivals is wonderfully written but the story itself doesn’t quite match up to the crafted prose and it could’ve used an editing hand to speed up the action and cut back on the number of characters. — Jennie Conway, Orangeburg Library Staff.  Galley provided by BEA.

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About Cheryl McNeil
I am the User Services Librarian at the Orangeburg Library in Orangeburg, NY

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