Conscience Point by Erica Abeel

Erica Abeel’s Conscience Point, published by Unbridled Books, started off rough for me, with shifts in tone and language for one of the main characters, Nick Ashcroft. After about 60 pages or so, I became absorbed in the dark secrets and the Gothic mystery surrounding the once lavish estate of Conscience Point. Madeleine Shaye is a concert pianist, an arts journalist, a mother, and a lover who allows passion to derail her career and lead her down a path that is wrought with disappointment and heartache. Nick Ashcroft and his sister Violet lead Shaye onto this path and become the center of her world, despite Maddie’s obliviousness. The deep secret that tears her relationship with Nick apart is predictable at best, but Abeel weaves a setting that captivates the reader and lulls them into the fantasy.

Shaye is a young pianist befriended by an eccentric artist from a wealthy New York family, Violet Ashcroft. She’s easily dazzled by Conscience Point’s ambiance, and the stormy eyes of Violet’s brother Nick. She is equally captivated by Violet as an outcast and tormented girl. Despite the separation between Nick, Violet, and Maddie that lasts several years and through one marriage each, they connect as most artists will with exploding passion in a paradise far from their “real” worlds. Maddie and Nick revive their lust, which sweeps up Maddie and leaves her blind to the reality of her self-constructed family. “Love cannot dwell with suspicion” is an apt theme running through the first portion of this novel, which stems from an ancient Roman myth featuring Cupid and Psyche. However, amidst the turmoil that her life becomes, Maddie is once again swept up by her true passion–music.

Through the initial pages of the novel, Nick uses terms like “thistle-y” and “joint,” which seem incongruous, and the narrator interrupts herself to stop digressions. These sections can be disruptive to the reader, but as they become less frequent and the pace of the drama picks up, the reader is absorbed.

“She’d never imagined you could love this hard yet keep yourself for your work. They swung through the hours, grooved as trapeze artists. Nick understood the musician’s life, its ardor and implacable demands. . . . She in turn marveled at how he teased out the shapely book hiding in some winding manuscript;” (page 46)

While the plot of this novel is cliche in many ways, the real gem is the poetic language and intricate weave of music and art throughout the novel. Maddie’s magic fingers hit the keys and the reader is drawn into the world of an artist. Conversations with her friend Anton about music and its composers easily draws readers into their highly dramatic world. Maddie has a great many regrets in this novel, but she has no one to blame but herself for her own misfortunes. This is a novel about finding yourself, learning to live with what you discover about yourself and your family, and staying true to your dreams and promises.

I would like to thank the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program for sending me this book back in October/November 2008.

LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Also Reviewed by:
Booking Mama

The first person to comment on this post about why they’d like to read this novel will receive my “gently used” advanced readers copy of Conscience Point.

Any Given Doomsday

LibraryThing Early Reviewers

I received Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland from Library Thing and St. Martin’s Press. The book is slated for publication in early November.

Quite a number of today’s urban fantasy books toy with the vampire myths and werewolf stories to modernize them and make them more relevant. When I started reading this novel, I knew I had to suspend disbelief. Elizabeth Phoenix is the heroine who grew up in foster care and grew into a tough young woman and cop. According to the short story, “In the Beginning,” Elizabeth is well known in her department as partially psychic; she has the ability to touch items and see what happened to the owners of those items. It is her power that ultimately leads to the death of her partner. This is all back story, which I presume the author wrote for herself so she could understand her character better. It’s not necessary to read it before you read Any Given Doomsday.

Elizabeth’s only friends have been her police partner, her childhood friend Jimmy Sanducci, and Ruthie, her foster mother. They all understood her and her gift. It’s this gift that they want her to develop to save the world. She learns a lot about herself and her powers as the book progresses, but her character does not evolve much for a heroine. She’s as hard-headed, sarcastic, and closed off as she is at the beginning of the book.

The characters in the book, particularly near the middle to the end, are obsessed with sex. Sex as a weapon, sex as a way to humiliate another human being, sex as a way to break free from the confines of themselves, and sex as therapy.

Elizabeth’s attitude throughout the book makes it difficult to like her, let alone empathize with her plight. Her intimate relationships with the men in her life are mind-boggling because they treat her like a paper plate–using her and tossing her to the side. The reader is expected to see her as the key to winning the battle, but it’s hard to view her that way when she constantly doubts herself and the men in her life, who are there to support her and help her grow, constantly toss her aside, become evasive in her presence, and disappear.

While I enjoyed the fast-paced nature of this book, I would only recommend it to readers of urban fantasy.

Anyone interested in reading this book for themselves, please feel free to email me. I will mail the book to the first person who contacts me, along with the short story.

Also Reviewed By:
The Sleepy Reader
Diary of an Eccentric
Amber Stults
Bitten by Books

***Don’t forget to enter my contest for A Grave in the Air