I received a free e-ARC of The Charmed Life of Alex Moore by Molly Flatt from NetGalley in return for review consideration. The Charmed Life of Alex Moore is an SFF novel (though it was listed on NetGalley as Women’s Fiction which I would disagree with), due to be published by Pan Macmillan, in the UK on 3rd May 2018.
Below is the Goodreads synopsis of the book:
How would you feel if everything in your life suddenly started to go . . . right? Six months ago, Alex Moore was stuck in a dead-end job, feeling her potential quietly slip away. Then, seemingly overnight, she launched her dream start-up and became one of London’s fastest rising tech stars. At thirty-one, her life has just begun. But Alex’s transformation isn’t easy for those around her. Her friends are struggling to accept her rapid success, her parents worry she’s burning out and her fiancé is getting cold feet.
Then weird things start to happen. Muggings, stalkers – even a wild claim that she murdered a stranger. But when Alex visits the Orkney Islands to recharge, weird turns into WTF. Because there she discovers the world’s oldest secret – and it’s a secret that Alex’s stratospheric rise has royally messed up.
I read this book pretty quickly, and found it a very easy and enjoyable book to read. But once I put it down, I realised I had no idea whether I’d enjoyed it or not.
There were definitely elements I definitely did enjoy. I though Platt’s prose was lovely, and I felt that most of the main characters were well-defined, with their own personalities and styles of speaking. I also enjoyed the parts set in London, as they were largely areas I know (I see you, Homerton Hospital!), and I liked that they weren’t the obvious, touristy parts of town.
I also mostly liked the character of Alex Moore. While she was sometimes very frustrating, I thought she was very well-realised and represented feelings that I, and I imagine a lot of other people, have experienced – wanting to break away from the status quo but not knowing how to, finding something new and going a bit evangelical about it, trying to balance work and friends and family and partners.
The main plot, revolving around her trips to the Orkney Islands and what she discovers there, was absolutely not what I expected. It was complex and kind of off the wall, but I think Platt mostly handled that well. There were a few sections that were a little exposition heavy, but Alex’s discoveries felt fairly organic and well-placed in terms of moving the plot forward. I did struggle to keep track of all the characters on the Orkney Islands though. Particularly with the changing allegiances and secrets, I didn’t always follow who Alex was with and what role that character was supposed to be playing.
I also had some quite significant problems with Alex’s platonic and romantic relationships. There’s a limit to what I can say without spoiling things, but I definitely felt like the main romantic relationship was quite troubling, and I was never quite sure whether Platt was acknowledging that or not. Towards the end of the book in particular, some of these relationships went in quite unexpected directions, and whilst I felt the main plot was wrapped up quite nicely, the very end of the book was…abrupt. And I think that’s part of why I’m so unsure how I feel about the book. For the most part, it was enjoyable, but there were a few elements that really threw me and left me feeling a little disappointed.
Overall, this was an entertaining and well-written book, which I think could have done with paring down in some areas, and more depth in others, and a more settled ending. But the main idea was fascinating: I think the book is worth a read because of that central plot, and I would definitely check out more of Molly Platt’s writing in the future.
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