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Book Review – The Unseen by Luke Alistar

03 Mar

You can find “The Unseen” by Luke Alistar on Lulu and Amazon.

Set in early America (Pennsylvania in 1849, if you want exacts) this book gripped my attention from the start. It opens up in an asylum for mentally ill people, where a seventeen year-old girl named Lucy Satin has grown up. Labeled an outcast for claiming to see phantoms, or ghosts. 

Within the first few chapters, I am told of the cruelty that the patients suffer at the asylum and am given a glimpse into the haunted mind of Lucy. The character quickly won my heart and I was routing for her survival and triumph until the last page. 

Alistar does an outstanding job of playing the heart strings of the reader, instantly inciting both pity and love for little, helpless Lucy. 

Like watching the aftershocks of an earthquake, the author shows us the affects that various traumatic experiences have on the girl, and how they have altered her maturity and mental state. From beginning to end, Lucy remains a disconcerting mystery. The character is easily loved and pitied, but her past is still questionable and so is her judgement. This weaves together to make a nicely-paced story that I found to be an enjoyable read. 

Negative Content:

The book contained two scenes where rape was mentioned, though not in such blunt words. The description did not go into unnecessary and squirm-worthy details, though the obvious message could definitely prove as reason to keep this book away from younger readers. 

I, personally, felt that the first scene where sexual assault was mentioned was not disconcerting or nightmare-inducing. Alistar wrote it tactfully and was able to make his point without causing discomfort. However, the second scene crept a little bit too close to the edge of my comfort zone for me, and I would have preferred had he maybe skipped over it a bit more. 

On a similar note, as you can imagine, there are a few scenes where Lucy is undressed due to bathing, cold, simply shredded clothes, etc. Her physical features when nude are not mentioned to us though, which keeps such scenes acceptable and appropriate.

Also, in one scene, an older character attempts to explain the motive behind the mens’ actions towards Lucy. Once again, he doesn’t go into details, but does mention sex and the world’s unsatisfiable hunger for it, like money.

Various characters let a few curse words slip, usually referring to another person or themselves in anger or frustration. Because of this the words ‘ass’ and ‘damn’ are used  multiple times and the term ‘bastard’ is used once. Lucy is also referred to as a ‘whore’ on several occasions, and commonly called a ‘witch’ along with comments about burning her.

Having been raised in a military town though, I didn’t feel the use of such words distracted much from the story. The context they were used in wasn’t horrible and didn’t pose a stumbling block for me. If you’re really uncomfortable with profanity in any sense, I probably wouldn’t recommend this book to you though. 

Positive Content: 

While this book doesn’t exactly paint images of rainbows and fluffy kittens, it is sprinkled with pictures of positive morals and uplifting messages.

From start to finish the book shows examples of sacrifice, loyalty, friendship, and perseverance. Lucy herself shows great bravery and courage by pressing forward, regardless of when things grew too dark for her to bear, with the intention to keep a promise she made to a friend before his passing.

Though many people treat her cruelly, the girl also meets two other people who are willing to stay with her. One of them, a phantom, shows loyalty by staying by her side, even though he feels helpless and another character plays the role of a temporary mentor, making quite a few points about her situation in the short time he spends with her. 

In the asylum, where people have proven to be cruel, we are told a few kind folks in that dark place that have shown care towards Lucy and given her hope. They display examples of helping someone even when you, yourself, need help. 

Conclusion: 
 
All in all, I thought this book was exceptional. It made me cry. It made me smile. It made me ponder. It left me torn between true and false. It was…awesome (to be honest, really, it was.) 

I love books that make me think and expect me to catch up on implications to understand the story. This seemed like one such book. The writing style was uniquely simple yet good and captivating. There were a few typographical errors, but nothing great enough to really distract from the story. 

The book left an interesting question to wonder over. 

If you saw Lucy, would you pass her by, or would you offer a caring hand to the girl who has no one?

It’s certainly something to ponder when I’ve spent a day in Lucy’s shoes, reading through the pages of her trials and misfortune. 

Though the theme (or themes) of the book could be interpreted in so many ways, I felt it cried out for people who had gone through what Lucy had; who had been in her situation. Who understood her pain. It gave a heart to the heartless, who wouldn’t want to comfort a person in that situation. 

Luke Alistar definitely pulls together this dark theme and shows us a world beyond our comfort zone, taking us into a mind we wouldn’t want to tread in. He delicately weaves together a storyline that could have easily slipped into a turn for the worst and makes it pass with flying colors.

In the end, I’d recommend this book to anybody searching for an intriguing read. I would warn younger readers away from it, or anybody with a sensitive stomach for things such as rape, profanity, or torture. It isn’t really for the faint of heart, and it’s a dark story to take in, but the moral lessons and food-for-thought are worth it.

-Bethany Faith

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1 Comment

Posted by on March 3, 2012 in Book Reviews, Books, Historical Fiction

 

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One response to “Book Review – The Unseen by Luke Alistar

  1. Naomi Star

    March 3, 2012 at 12:39 am

    I agree. It is a great read. I don’t dive into a book (or any media for that matter) with out first putting on my discerning armor. This book kept my on my toes the whole way, thinking and pondering along each chapter. I watched “Shutter Island” and thought the movie had a great twist at the end… this book is even better. I will not be surprise if it plays in the big screen one day. Look forward to reading more from Luke Alistar. Thanks for introducing me to such a great read Bethany!

     

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