I am so happy today to finally post my review of Father Figure because this book totally surprised me!
The author has kindly given a copy of his book but it had no influence whatsoever on my willing and always honest review.
5 “brilliant scheming” stars
For those who follow me you must realize that Father Figure is not my usual read. My favorite genre for some years now has been romance in all its variation be it YA or Adult, contemporary, fantasy, PNR….
Father Figure is many things but clearly not a romance. Yet I found it brilliant.
Father Figure is a mix between family drama/saga, suspense and diabolical intrigue.
James Cudney did a brilliant work building a story around two main protagonists that we follow years apart until their paths mingle for the reader in the middle of the book.
This constant back and forth between past and present, between sweet innocent Molly and determined Brianna sets a rhythm where the reader just has to go on to know more.
Father Figure has three fundamental assets that I will develop further in my review:
- The plot. I’ve rarely read a book written with such finesse about intricate plots. Few authors can write such complex plots without losing the reader at some point. Until now my two plot masterminds were Beth Flynn and JL Myers. Well James joined them in my “evil plotter masterminds” pantheon.
- The characters. You have sweet and innocent vs spunk. They are brilliantly fleshed out and I walked in these girls‘s shoes from the first sentence.
- The writing and the setting of the stories. James’s writing holds enough details to have me BE on a college campus in the eighties. Or walk in the streets of that small Mississippi town enjoying the sun on my skin or breathing the summer air. The writing flowed effortlessly detailed but not flowery or heavy. Just the perfect match for that story.
Let’s develop it further now.
I really liked the contrast between the two main female protagonists. One sweet and innocent the other tough and determined.
Amalia is that sweet girl from Mississipi who has been abused by her mother for nearly eighteen years. James did an incredible job portraying that young and clueless girl from that small town. How she did not know anything about sexual intercourse or avoiding having babies. How she could barely show an ankle without being insulted by her mother. How she loved her gentle but oppressed father. How she had no friends and aspired to escape to college to breath. To be free.
Amalia has been used all her life and yet she had a tranquil inner force guiding her through the pressure others put on her shoulders. She has an inner grace and quiet dignity.
She will go through so much in this story it was nearly unbearable.
That beautiful young woman will grow up the hard way.
Brianna was harder to love at first as she is rebellious and lost. Not knowing who her father was, uncertain of her history she felt stuck. She is undecided about her sexuality and will make mistakes hurting others while trying to find herself. She is determined to discover the identity of her father and won’t hesitate to harass her mother behaving like a brat. She was so obsessed with it that she forgot to enjoy what she had instead of focusing on what she did not have.
The cast of side characters was also flawless. Each serving a purpose and adding another dimension to the story.
James has an intelligent writing. As the story sets it gets more and more intricate. Secrets are unearthed, revelations come to light and you realize that James truly IS a mastermind. A genius scheming writer. He places seemingly innocent facts here and there, fortuitous encounters, little crumbs and we don’t realize all the intricate connections between these threads before a big reveal!
That’s the kind of stories I adore. When the plot gets slowly, discreetly more and more intricate until you realize you’ve been carefully led a certain way and all these innocent facts were part of a vast and complex scheme. I’ve been played all along and never realized it!
James told me he built the plot and the characters first and it shines through its writing.
The use of back and forth between past and present for the first half of the book is a smart trick as the reader just want to know what will happen next.
I was constantly wondering: what is the connection between these two girls? Is there one? Or will it happen in the future? Will Amalia escape to college or get stranded in her small town at her mother’s mercy? Will Brianna discover who her father is? Is he alive?
James writing style was also something I got to love. Formal when it has to be as it fits the time and the story but not too much. Detailed but not flowery giving us all the ingredients to be IN the story and eat, love, suffer, breath with the characters.
The pace was also perfect for a suspense. Not rushed but not dragging either. I can’t find any moment when I though he should go faster or slower.
I know this was a long review but I do tend to be talkative when I discover a new author surpassing my expectations. Father Figure is only James’s second book and he has already reached an impressive mastery of his craft.
If you love suspense, family drama, smart and beautifully written stories with an intricate plot just read this.
Do you love stories with plot twists leaving you knocked off your socks? Have recommendations for me?
Thanks for reading!