Review: Never on Saturday

As the book was only officially released today (February 9), I will keep this review spoiler-free.

It’s a sad day, but I suppose that this was bound to happen, as every book is not going to be amazing. What sounded like an interesting premise based on the blurb turned out to be like that blurb in the most technical and sparse way possible. Here it is, for reference:

Two stories, two heartbreaks: one past, one present…

Leaving her native France and arriving in North Wales as a postgraduate student of History and Folklore, Mel is cautiously optimistic that she can escape from her troubled past and begin a new and happier life.  

She settles into her student accommodation and begins work on her thesis, concentrating particularly on one fascinating manuscript: a compelling and tragic tale of a cursed medieval princess. 

Then she meets Ray – charming, down-to-earth and devastatingly handsome. Within days, Mel’s entire world has transformed from lonely and frustrated to loving and fulfilled. Despite her failure with previous relationships, she allows herself to hope that this time, at last, she can make it work.

But Mel’s dreams of happiness are under constant threat. She is hiding a dark and terrible secret, which Ray – or indeed anybody else – must never ever discover…

My biggest complaint is that the background for the plot, such as Mel’s academic life, is never shown, only mentioned, and briefly at that. In fact, this whole novel is a lot of “tell, don’t show,” which is especially disappointing given all the fantastical elements. At the end of the book there is an author’s note that discusses the real life folklore that inspired the story and it too is told in the same manner, which made it by far the most interesting part of the book.

One might argue that I would have enjoyed the book more if I knew the folklore beforehand, and its folkloric nature is, in fact, the reason for the way in which the narrative is presented. But my counter argument to this would have to be that the story should be able to stand on its own and the revelation (to me, as one ignorant in French folklore, despite minoring in French in college) in the author’s note that it was based on folklore, should just be a nice bonus.

The story is centered on the romance between Mel and Ray and yet besides being told that they immediately plunged into love, I just couldn’t see it. After a few dates, with absolutely cringe-worthy dialogue, the reader is supposed to believe that these two people want to spend the rest of their lives together. While that sort of sentiment can be understood, and my disbelief suspended, for the past storyline, the modern romance never comes together.

I was disappointed with Mel’s dark and terrible secret, and while I won’t say what it is (since I promised to be spoiler free and all), I will say that it was neither dark, nor terrible, and I still remain confused as to why it had to cause any heartbreak whatsoever, even in the medieval past, which was a whimsical and simpler time where love at first sight was totally a real thing that happened.

Unfortunately, the entire novel was a disappointment and the only reason that I finished it is because it was so short (much to its detriment). The concept had a lot of potential but the execution, frankly, reminded me of the romances I wrote when I was thirteen, which made me surprised when I learned that it was written by a seasoned author. In any case, I’m afraid that I can’t recommend this book and will have to rate it 2/5 stars which is being generous.

Vera

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