178 Following

Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


You can also find me on my blog.

Historical Novel Society

Review: The French Orphan by Michael Stolle

The French Orphan - Michael Stolle

This may sound a little harsh, but there is a lot to dislike about this book. I almost quit reading so many times, and probably should have the first time I felt the urge because it never got any better. The number one problem with this book: I'm not sure who would like it.

Normally if I read something that I don't like, I can at least determine who the target audience is. Maybe it's got too much romance for me, but other people are into that. I like a lot of historical details, others find that dry. This book is written at the reading level of a sixth grader but includes several disturbing sexual scenes and topics that I wasn't even comfortable reading.

Most of this book reads like YA fiction. It is full of beautiful people whose luck always holds out. They go on unlikely adventures and are miraculously kept safe by an ever-growing circle of secret confidants who don't actually have any reason to help them. The bad guys are despicably evil and the good guys are lovable and beyond reproach. This all gets a little bland, but possibly entertaining to a 12 year old.

Except that I would never let my 12 year old read it because within the first several pages we encounter the first mention of pedophilia which is quickly followed up by male on male rape. I wish I could tell you that these were isolated occurrences. The book is filled with threesomes, sex between partners of varied genders, and boasting of sexual prowess among the teenage main characters.

This book also ends with nothing truly resolved. It is as if the proper number of pages was reached so everything else was left for the planned sequels. Unfortunately, even with the story left hanging completely open, I have no desire to read on.

If I could get beyond these issues to be taken in by some nicely described scenes and interesting historical information, I may have enjoyed the book a little bit more. The bland storyline speckled with creepy sex scenes was just too distracting from what was good about this novel.