Proceed with caution all those who pledge to read this book, as it is disappointment that awaits you. A psychological suspense, ‘Two Graves’ written by Zoe Kalo, is a novella dotted with references and comes across as a little too rushed in an attempt to keep it fast-paced.
Volume 1 in the ‘Retribution’ series of standalone novellas, the theme of this story revolves around revenge and the famed Dante’s inferno. A certified bookworm as mentioned on her website, Zoe Kalo makes an attempt that still requires work.
The novella is about a 23-year old music student Angelica out to avenge something that shattered her life seven years ago. The base of the story seems plausible enough but the back and forth in time, the character formation and the mind jumbling sequence of doors after doors leaves the reader rather perplexed. So much so that it takes about 10 chapters into the short novella to actually understand who the antagonist is and why Angelica is hell bent on extracting her not-so-well-planned revenge.
Nonetheless, the book has a few lines that make you appreciate the quality of her writing. One such example, quite early in the novella is about music and the impact it has on anyone too close to it –
However, just where the writing is nothing short of beautiful, the story is in disarray. Angelica’s decent from one room to another in the after party is shown to be parallel to her decent in hell. The intelligent idea is so rushed that you feel that the description of the place and the lost souls of people trapped in it are not enough. It leaves you wanting more – the further the story moves the more confused you get.
The back story of Angelica seven years ago, is in stark contrast and moves at the pace of a snail but even then leaves you with questions. Who is the person behind the insistent phone calls? Who is the teddy bear that holds so much significance that it makes an entry into Angelica’s present? Why even when Angelica acts mature should she also behave like a teenager out to end herself?
The quotes and references, on the other hand, makes one judge that the writer is well read in her music and literature but expecting the same of her YA readers is a little too optimistic. Not every person that picks up her book will be well-versed in the thoughts of Stare, Dante and Leoncavallo. Since the thoughts aren’t mentioned, they are vaguely thrown about in mindless, existentialist conversations, that in one instance end in a person committing suicide and Angelica not calling the ambulance but walking away as if nothing out of the ordinary just happened. The story, thus, extends too far into a land that is nothing short of fantasy leaving the reader not being able to actually relate to the characters or feel an ounce of sympathy towards the protagonist.
The story, thus, extends too far into a land that is nothing short of fantasy leaving the reader not being able to actually relate to the characters or feel an ounce of sympathy towards the protagonist.
So, the thought remains – proceed with caution because it may not be a book that leaves you entertained, forget amazed. It is confusing in the least and as far-fetched from reality as can be. However, owing to its length you can finish the book in a matter of hours and it might be a good read if you understand that the author is a good writer even if her attempt at a novella wasn’t as good as it could have been. The parallel reference to Dante’s inferno brings a fresh perspective to YA stories and leaves you wondering, could the story have been better if only it was bit longer?