by Therin Knite
I had the pleasure of reading and recommending Othella by Therin Knite last year and enjoyed it so much I joined the author’s mailing list. Earlier this year, Knite offered her mailing list a free copy of her latest book, Solace, in return for an honest review. It’s taken me a little while to get to it, but here are my thoughts. I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed.
Corina Marion has a father problem—namely that her Red Cross doctor of a dad has finally returned home from sixteen years of war…
…as a body in a box to be buried.
Her mother is devastated, her friends shocked and saddened, her hometown in mourning at the loss of its local hero. And Corina, indifferent to the man she never met, is trapped in the middle of an emotional onslaught she isn’t prepared to handle.
But when a strange old man confronts Corina at her father’s funeral, he offers her an impossible opportunity: the chance to know the late Luther Marion. And in a moment of uncertainty, Corina makes a choice with consequences she can barely fathom.
A choice that sends her twenty-five years into the past.
Right on the cusp of the harrowing events that will shape Luther Marion’s life…and death.
And in order to return to her damaged home, supportive friends, and uncertain future, Corina will have to fight tooth and nail alongside the man she’s resented her entire life. Because if she doesn’t help fix the past she’s inadvertently changed with her presence, Luther Marion may not live long enough to become a hero at all.
Corina is a tough, independent teenager. She’s had to be. Her doctor father left before she was born to save lives in a never-ending war on the other side of the world, leaving just her and her mother waiting for him to return. But when he does, it’s in a box. Angry at what’s happened, and the reverence in which her father she’s never known is held, she tries to escape the cloying atmosphere at her father’s funeral, only to meet a mysterious man who offers her the chance to know what her father was really like. Corina agrees, and before she know’s it she’s being rescued from a canal 25 years in the past – by the man who became her father.
Solace is a well-written, hard hitting YA coming of age story set in an alternate version of our future. It’s a modern take on the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, but instead of our protagonist following her own life, she gets to follow the life of her absent father.
Therin Knite has a great writing style, and it didn’t take me long to be sucked into the story. The opening scenes are about as tough as I’ve read in my (admittedly sparse) experience of YA novels and set the tone for the rest of the book, introducing us to the harsh world in which the tough, loyal and driven Corina lives. It’s a dark but well realised vision of our future, with America almost on its knees due to the effects of an ongoing war against China. Yet almost as soon as we’re introduced to this world we’re taken out of it as Corina is sent back in time on a journey to discover the real person behind her father’s heroic image. The only rule, is she’s not allowed to turn him away from the life he is going to lead.
At the heart of the story is the relationship between the abandoned daughter and the absent father. As they journey together through some of the defining moments of her father’s life, the two of them form a bond which never existed in real life as they each learn about the other. But throughout the book the joy of a daughter learning about her father is tempered by the knowledge of where that journey’s heading.
I really enjoyed the concept behind this story and found Knite’s stripped-down writing sharp and very engaging. The characters were well-rounded and believable, the settings realistic, and I devoured it in just a few days. The only issue I had with the book was that there were a few occasions where the dialogue appeared forced, with some conversations used as a means to explain or advance the plot (in the hospital, for example), but they probably stood out because of the high quality work in what is yet another strong novel by Therin Knite. If you like gripping, near-future thrillers with strong female protagonists, this is the book for you. Highly recommended.
Dylan S Hearn
(This review has appeared elsewhere.)