The Daguerreotypist

The Daguerreotypist - Christopher Savio This review appeared first on Oh, Chrys!Recalling reading of a daguerreotypist in Hawthorne's [b:The House of the Seven Gables|90192|The House of the Seven Gables|Nathaniel Hawthorne||1483780], I was delighted to read Savio's work. The daguerreotypist in the former novel captured me despite his murky mystique and evasiveness, so I was hoping for the same in [b:The Daguerreotypist|17295214|The Daguerreotypist|Christopher Savio|/assets/nocover/60x80.png|23928891]. I am not surprised that authors use this profession to portray characters as dark as the rooms their products require. Besides the presence of a daguerreotypist, I was most excited to read about the alternating times periods - 1842 and 2012 - of New York City. Despite these initial attractions, I found [b:The Daguerreotypist|17295214|The Daguerreotypist|Christopher Savio|/assets/nocover/60x80.png|23928891] to be lacking in vital areas - writing and characterization. Fortunately, the fast progression of the plot and its ever-increasing intrigue made me appreciate the novel beyond its flaws.Readers are introduced to Isaiah, a religious fanatic who feels that by deterring sinners from their vices using inhumane scare tactics, he can prepare a society ready to welcome his Lord. With the theme of religion pulsing each page, and in a hypocritical light, [b:The Daguerreotypist|17295214|The Daguerreotypist|Christopher Savio|/assets/nocover/60x80.png|23928891] proved to be insightful, leaving me afraid that such people may have existed or even worse still do. Like in every multi-perspective book, he ended up being the character I was most excited to read about - the character that demanded my attention. His was the only personality that was well portrayed. He was dark and macabre - the machinations of the Devil himself.A recently-moved couple about to get married, Rachel and Brian were quite difficult characters to enjoy reading about. Their characterization was not as powerful as the crazed Isaiah; however, they certainly did propel the plot with their sleuth and curiosity. Specifically, it was Rachel's unholy, obsessive attraction to Isaiah's daguerreotype found in her new apartment that enveloped the plot with a blanket of suspense and fear. Though the suspense was not mind-aching, and the fear was not crippling, the events that ensue the discovery of the mysterious daguerreotype opens a Pandora's box, fit to destroy any bonds Rachel has and to risk her relationship and the aspirations of her politician father. Conversely, Brian's character was so underdeveloped, that later I deduced that his inclusion was solely to maintain a love triangle. The relationship between the future newly-weds was not described well and seemed to only have a trickle of pertinence to the progressiveness of the plot. With closer examination of their lackluster development, I found the Brian-Rachel relationship to be annoying. For instance, Rachel uses Brian's insecurities to control him.Now the ground-shaking character that certainly raised my interest was Belial. He is one of 1842 Isaiah's customers, who seems to know more about Isaiah's life-threatening crusade. More than Isaiah would like him to know. With such knowledge, readers will be curious to learn how he knows of these dark secrets. It is also an opportunity for readers to see the unfazed Isaiah evolve into a person of fear - a different perspective from his serial killer persona. Belial's unveiling of Isaiah's secrets turn the murderous zealot into a desperate man, willing to do anything to stay alive. I enjoy the scenes with Beliah and Isaiah because not only were they better portrayed, but they added a thrill factor to a fast-moving plot.Savio's organization was impressive. I never got confused about which time period took center stage. The transitions between the couple and the crazed zealot were smooth, overlapping each other in a way that maintained steady interest. I also appreciated the historical research that etched the novel, especially in its expositions. However, it would have been wondrous if the plot was encased in more descriptive writing.Savio does more telling than showing. This is especially evident when considering that Brian is conveniently a history teacher. Considering that this novel, heavily relies history, I found it unoriginal that Brian was readily available to provide a scholastic infodump at the tip of his tongue when required. The most unfortunate area where Savio's writing fell short was in the relationship of Rachel and Isaiah. I was not expecting a lot of insight in their impulsive attraction, but it would have been great if the romance had a stronger presence. The diction of [b:The Daguerreotypist|17295214|The Daguerreotypist|Christopher Savio|/assets/nocover/60x80.png|23928891] was didactic and simple to understand. Every now and again a passage of eloquence appeared, only to be marred by coarse dialogue or a vague, taunting description.The plot of this book really had me going - like really. Unfortunately, the writing and characterization lacked the flourishes of captivating writing. This can be easily dismissed with the racing plot it unfolds depending on the reader's interest level.In the end, the writing could not refrain me from enjoying a book with awesome potential. I was engrossed in the plot despite the novel's deficiencies. Reminiscent of a Stephen King novel, [b:The Daguerreotypist|17295214|The Daguerreotypist|Christopher Savio|/assets/nocover/60x80.png|23928891] held my attention, and ended with a cliffhanger which leaves me waiting for another installment.