Sometimes Craft Trumps All & The Black Hour More than Delivers

craftI finished reading The Black Hour last weekend, yet it still clings to me. I could philosophize about the violence that has gripped our country (because Lori did a brilliant job capturing this sentiment), or the fascinating mystery set to the backdrop of an environment I still hold near and dear–the college campus, or even the many questions that arise in the narrative about what it means to lose something many of us take for granted–our health, our bodies, our livelihood.

But I can’t. I need to talk about craft. This is my favorite aspect of this novel. Lori’s craft stuns. It’s…

RAW: The white hot pain and oblivion of losing one’s faith in humanity, in a life worth living is so palpable, at times I ached for Amelia (the protagonist) as if she were a friend. I felt uncomfortable in theses emotions and somehow helpless, as if the story were REAL, all because Lori’s descriptions were unique and acute without being flowery.

COMPELLING: The kind of pain Amelia experienced intrigued me, as well as her relationship with Nathaniel. The irony of a violent crime’s professor being injured in a violent crime was also not lost on me. Spectacular. I HAD TO KNOW HOW THIS WOULD END. Do I need to say anything else about this?

URGENT: Each time I sat down to read for thirty minutes before bed, I found myself pulled through the narrative and racing to turn the page. EVERY SINGLE TIME. I sped through this novel in a few days!

But also Lori’s craft possesses…

DARK HUMOR: I’m a sucker for humor and she sprinkles it throughout the narrative when you aren’t looking and you suddenly find yourself smirking at a damned clever comment. This is incredibly difficult to do well and Lori does it with ease and panache.

VOICE: There’s nothing I love more than a strong voice. Nothing. In fact, I’m a stickler for it in my own writing, but will literally close a book if I don’t get a strong sense of voice immediately. Lori’s characters had such vivid voices, they practically walked off the page.

So it isn’t just that The Black Hour is chock full of current, poignant questions, or a fascinating mystery, but the craft is bloody brilliant. I can’t wait to see what Lori cooks up next.

 What is one of your favorite aspects when reading a new novel?


Author: Heather Webb

Heather Webb is the author of BECOMING JOSEPHINE, her debut historical (Plume/Penguin 2014). A freelance editor and blogger, she spends oodles of time helping writers hone their skills—something she adores. You may find her Twittering @msheatherwebb, hosting contests, or hanging around as a contributor to the Editor's Posts. She is also the Twitter mistress for the popular Writer Unboxed. She loves making new reader and writer friends. Stop on by her website, Between the Sheets!

7 Replies to “Sometimes Craft Trumps All & The Black Hour More than Delivers”

  1. I love dark humor, too, and sarcasm. I thought Professor Emmet’s character was especially funny. Her sense of humor kept her from seeming like too much of a “victim,” even though she WAS a victim…

  2. Couldn’t agree more with all of this. I also found myself chuckling and I thought it was brilliant, because life is never black and white and sometimes humor finds itself alongside tragedy.

  3. I love Lori’s humor in real life — I love that it came across in the story. It’s a real balancing act to have a character who is a victim not seem victim-like — Lori achieved this in spades!

  4. Though I have not read the book YET, I have to say that my favorite aspect of the book is character development. I admire characters with a sense of humor. I notice one liners ~ witty comments.

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