Review: Where Silence Gathers by Kelsey Sutton

3 of 5 stars

This is a review of the companion novel to Some Quiet Place which I really loved. Click HERE to go to that review. This has different characters but it’s in the same world and I would read them in the correct order to get the most out of it.

Our main character is Alex, who lives in a small, on-the-verge-of-economic-collapse mountain town. Her family was killed six years ago in a horrific traffic accident, and she lives with her aunt and uncle (her uncle was her father’s brother.) Like our main character in the last book, she can see the “other plane” or the beings (who are totally human-like) that are emotions and elements. These beings show up when they get “the summons” or when a person is having an emotion.

I really loved that first book. I liked this one but I feel it wasn’t as focused and basically, there was a lot going on. Sadly, Alex doesn’t seem to do much to figure stuff out. As I was reading it, I did not believe that someone who had this huge backstory (entire family killed in a car accident) would blithely go along and ignore that convenient flash drive, the dangerous man who almost drives her off the road, the weird connection between a man she knows and a child killer. Would you not be more careful about meeting people after urgent phone calls and nearly being driven off the road? Have you never seen a Law & Order episode? Then all of a sudden she would become super sleuth and put things together out of the blue and go off and confront people.

She tells us that Revenge showed up when her family died and introduced himself as her best friend. And she thinks she’s in love with him. However, they can never touch. He tells her that the drunk driver responsible for her family’s death, Nate Foster, has been released from prison early for good behavior. At this point, she starts to see another member of the other plane, one she doesn’t recognize. He also has an unearthly beauty and mysteriousness. Turns out, this is Forgiveness.

Then begins the struggle. Alex goes to Nate Foster’s house with her uncle’s gun in her glovebox. The two beings, Forgiveness and Revenge, are trying to talk her over to their side. She believes that forgiveness is not in her nature, but she can’t seem to do what she fantasizes about while sitting in her car, or staring in Foster’s windows: actually kill Nate Foster.

Alex also has a godfather who works at the local University. Alex does the same thing the girl in the other book did which is go to see people and then just turns around and leave. The other characters are just stage dressing who speak, but she doesn’t listen to. She doesn’t answer her phone. She doesn’t interact. She doesn’t speak to her family. Terrible things happen, and you know they are going to continue to happen (ie: she is under threat from an external force) and she just sort of ignores it. And that got a little irritating. Then when she finds a flash drive that belonged to her dad she goes to her godfather Andrew for help. He freaks. Like really is upset about this. He tells her not to come to his work. He overreacts inappropriately. Instead of going to her family she just ignores it and acts like it didn’t happen. She’s not even curious about this incident. It just threw out red flags that the author wasn’t going to have the character be proactive about her own problems and stretch out the story, despite the fact that any reader is going to be shaking their head going “this might be important.”

I did find the story atmospheric and kinda gritty – the town Alex lives in is very familiar to me, my sister lives in a similar one, and it was really realistic as far as the types of people who inhabit those kinds of towns. But there was a little too much. The radio station that only plays Elvis. The constant bong of the clock. Then there is the rocket Alex’s dad made and set off when he was a kid that he couldn’t find and she’s always looking for. The empty little boy who lives next door that collects empty jars. I thought she should have picked a metaphor and stuck with it. There was also the gay friend whose having trouble being accepted by her parents, and that was such a sub, sub plot it really wasn’t necessary. The friend had so little impact in the story it’s like the author just wanted to check the “LGBTQ” box. It’s what all the LGBTQ kids complain about. They don’t want to be a sub, sub, sub plot. That is not what diversity or representation should be about. It’s like the editor went “You know, you should have an LGBTQ character and they stuck one in there.

I know this seems really negative but I did enjoy the book but I can’t give it more than 3 stars. I just didn’t like it as much as the first one. The writing in this one was really good and I tabbed a bunch of really quotable lines. If you’ve read the first one you might want to give this one a go.

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