Eliza Bluebell by A.J. York
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Another one of A.J.'s magical stories. This one features a mysterious young woman who takes a break from her quest to find family to open a sweet shop in a small town. No one is certain how or when Eliza showed up, but everyone remembers it. After that, each chapter features one or two of the people from the town and how Eliza touches their lives. Eliza becomes a legend in the town's lore. A woman whose departure was as mysterious as her arrival.
In this story, which is pretty short, I most enjoyed the chapters in the middle, because each one is told from the perspective of a different villager. The nosy neighborhood women, the best friends in the grade school, the old man who grumbles and times the bus, and the young couple who are down on their luck. I like how Eliza draws them out of their shells and helps them connect to each other. Eliza's sentient and playful shadow adds that element of magic to everything. The people don't notice it directly, but they are affected by it. This is one of those stories that just left me feeling good.
The illustrations are also well done, though simple in their execution. Just silhouettes and shadows against a white background. They are obviously done by a skilled artist, though not as whimsical or laughter inducing as those in the author's other books. They fit the story and introduce the subject of each chapter effectively.
Although I liked this story, I think the story could have done just as well either without the first chapter, or with a much shorter one. I think this was because the first chapter was more of a telling than a showing. Later ones were more of a showing, which is why I enjoyed them more. There was also a fair amount of repetition, particularly within the first chapter.
Overall, I really liked the story, though it had a slow start. I'd recommend Eliza Bluebell to folks who like uplifting short stories with a touch of humor and magic.
I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.
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