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She's an author to watch.
There Is No Lovely End is a very strong first novel. It's complex, engaging, has incredibly diverse characters and a marvelous author's voice.
It's not perfect, but it's damn good.
The starting point for the novel is that one of the legends about Sarah Winchester, of Winchester Mansion fame, is that she was told to "Go West" not by Horace Greeley, but by a medium in Boston.
This is the story of that medium, Nathan Garlan, his murderous mother (Hester) and felonious father (Hennet), an orphanage that makes Oliver Twist look like DisneyLand and a fair number of characters that I would not want to have dinner with. Or if I did, I'd count the silverware afterwards and be tempted to burn it, just to be safe.
But the characters are likeable, in bizarre sorts of ways. Even the worst of this lot of unlikeable characters have some redeeming traits. (Except, maybe Hester, but she's so over the top that you can't help admire her, even if you dislike her.)
The novel's two strongest points are the author's voice. It has jargon and flow that changes depending on the Point-of-View character. The text is illiterate and slangy when we watch Hester or Hennet, overblown and bombastic while Dr. Enton Blake, purveyor of fine pharmaceuticals and has center stage, and educated and refined while following the Pardee family.
However, as I said, the book isn't perfect.
I had a problem with the real-world fight scenes. I think the characters (Hester in particular) manage to do too much without being interrupted by their opponent. I don't I buy an over-the-head kick while wearing a heavy, 1860's style long dress.
The ending dragged on a bit too long. Patty wanted to wrap up all the loose ends. I think the book could have left some of the ends dangling. I'll concede that unleashing all the captured spirits to coincide with the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 was a cute touch.
Overall, this book was worth the sixteen bucks I paid for it. I'll do it again for her next novel.
Patty Templeton could easily be the next Tim Powers. She has the same knack of getting you to accept one slightly strange event, and once you've accepted that, you'll accept something a bit less likely. Soon you're accepting impossibilities that would have kicked your suspension of disbelief right off it's tracks if it had hit them before being warmed up to idea.
Hmm, PT->TP. Probably just a coincidence.