Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review: Dead Letter Office by Kira Snyder

Title: Dead Letter Office (Parish Mail #1)
Author: Kira Snyder
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Paranormal Fantasy

Goodreads rating: 4.37 out of 5.00
Goodreads | Amazon

When Celia’s father is killed in Afghanistan, she moves with her mother to New Orleans, the city where her father grew up. Struggling to adjust and haunted by troubling dreams, Celia finds comfort in new friends like Tilly, a practicing witch, and Donovan, the son of police detective. On Halloween, bizarre supernatural occurrences rock the city. Celia meets the mysterious Luc and finds a letter, over a hundred years old, addressed to her.

The paranormal repercussions continue when Celia learns that Luc is the restless spirit of a young man murdered in 1854, only able to assume solid form at night. And then, to her shock, Celia finds that the letter, which describes the suspected murder of a man in 1870, contains uncanny parallels to the present-day death of Abel Sims, a homeless veteran.

With help from Luc, Tilly, and Donovan, Celia races to solve the murder—and the mystery of the letter—using both magical and forensic clues.

This is an Active Fiction title
"Active fiction" is a new type of e-reading experience that allows the reader and the author to interact with each other and the text in new and different ways.

Kira has written Parish Mail like a TV series–there are over-arching mystery and romantic story arcs that extend between the episodes, while each episode has a smaller case that is presented and solved. Along the way, she asks you, the reader, to make several small decisions as you read. These choices do not impact the overarching storyline, but certain combinations “unlock” clues to the series’ mystery, which are embedded in the text. Kira also asks you to cast a vote at the end of the episode, to get additional feedback from her fans about their preferred love interests in future episodes.

Review by Nara

Thank you to Coliloquy for sending me a copy of Dead Letter Office through NetGalley. In no way did this affect my opinion of the book.

Before starting Dead Letter Office I was quite intrigued with how the Active Fiction/Choose Your Own Adventure aspect of it was going to work. It had been a while since I'd read a CYOA (last time was probably primary school), so I was really looking forward to it. I'm only going to be reviewing for the path that I personally took, so if you're reading the book and wondering why some of the things I talk about haven't come up, that's probably why.

First line: The dead man smiles at me.

Already, in the first few chapters, a lot of intrigue is built around the characters and the plot. Celia seems to be a very intelligent character- my favourite kind!- and also seems pretty damn brave. I know that I would be completely freaked out if I found out that ghosts were real, but Celia seems to take it in her stride. She wasn't even affected much when she discovers that Tilly is a witch (not a spoiler! It's in the blurb). She was quite headstrong, and seemed to have no fear whatsoever while leading investigations and tracking down murderers. She's definitely the kind of protagonist that I really enjoy reading about.

The pace of the book was very good, with the element of mystery constantly hanging in the air- meaning there was enough intrigue for me not to lose interest while reading. When I first saw the book, it seemed like it was going to be really long, but because of the different choices throughout, it actually wasn't at all too long. It was short, fast-paced and an easy read. I almost would've wanted it to be longer, because I wanted to keep reading about the characters!

There was certainly no aspect of the book that I would majorly criticise. However, some very minor criticisms include the fact that the investigation was a bit unrealistic (would teenagers really have such easy access to all those resources??) and the fact that Celia accepted everything a bit too easily (as I said before, I would be freaking out majorly if all this stuff happened to me, least of all finding a really old letter with my name on it.)

Oh. My. God. One of the choices towards the end is which love interest Celia chooses. YOU CAN'T DO THIS TO ME KIRA!!! I chose Luc by the way. BUT THAT TOOK SOME THINKING. I was literally staring at that page for 10 minutes wondering which one I should pick. The electricity of Luc, the heat of Donovan or the asshattery of Sloan? Which would you pick? I was actually kind of contemplating choosing the asshole because I thought it might be interesting. I find myself somewhat conflicted, because on the one hand, I like the fact that Snyder gives us the choice. But on the other hand, I dislike being given the choice, as I like to see what the author chooses- because that's obviously the choice that the characters themselves would go for. I don't know what happens in the other paths, because I chose Luc, but I assume the endings were somewhat similar- very open, and leaving obvious room for a sequel.

Dead Letter Office was a really fun read. I don't know why so few people have read it, but I think that maybe it's because there hasn't been much publicity surrounding it. It's certainly not because it's a bad book. It's awesome and you should buy yourself a copy! On to the next one for me!

Keep your eyes out for a giveaway of BOTH books in the Parish Mail series! It will be happening in the next few weeks! (You can work out the exact date by looking at the giveaway button in the sidebar hehe)

Similar Recommended Books
1. City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster
2. Hysteria by Megan Miranda
3. Shadowlands by Kate Brian

Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 3/5