Release Date: 8 Sep 2009
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Ghosts, Fantasy
Summary: Sylvie Davis is a ballerina who can't dance, she lost everything important to her in one missed step.
Uprooting her from her Manhattan apartment, and shipping her to Alabama is her mother's solution for Sylvie's unhappiness. But life might not be any more simple down south. As it turns out, her family has a lot more history than Sylvie ever knew. More unnerving, though, are the two guys that she can't stop thinking about.
Then Sylvie starts seeing things. A girl down by the lake. A man peering into the window. And a graveyard with an oddly placed headstone. Sylvie's lost nearly everything—is she starting to lose her mind as well?
Buy It: Amazon
Review: Sylvie Davis went from living her dream as youngest principal dancer ever for The American Ballet Company to recovering from a career ruining injury at her cousin Paula's home in Alabama. The family home isn't exactly what Sylvie had been anticipating. For one, it's in the middle of nowhere, certainly not the New York City lifestyle she's used to. It's also more of a mansion and is in the process of being turned into a bed and breakfast. Sylvie's quiet planned vacation gets disrupted when she discovers she'll be sharing the house with many other people including two men who've caught her interest which is a first since The Accident. Normal problems aren't all that Sylvie has to deal with, however. She's convinced she might be going crazy, or at least has an overly active imagination, when she keeps seeing and hearing people that aren't there.
Sylvie was dealt a shitty hand, what with her leg breaking which prevented her from her greatest passion, her mother's recent marriage to a shrink, being shipped off to a relative she doesn't know etc. It was difficult listening to Sylvie’s pain and unhappiness but Clement-Moore gave her a subtle strength that, while I could never pinpoint quite where I felt it coming from while reading, was always enough so that I never felt myself being brought down by what Sylvie has gone through. Instead I felt hopeful knowing that she would make the best of things and triumph. I'm the biggest baby when it comes to depressing or angsty subject, I try to avoid them as much as possible because reading to me is always for pleasure. I liked that I was able to visit darker topics and be touched by them in The Splendor Falls yet remain optimistic. It was very clever writing on Clement-Moore's part and I would be more than happy to read other books from her solely because of this writing.
The Splendor Falls is riddled with teenage problems and familial dysfunction, two topics that I almost always find annoying despite its omnipresence in young adult fiction. For once I wasn't even slightly irritated to find them present. Instead I was so involved in Sylvie’s voice and story that they became new challenges, challenges that I didn't mind and enjoyed seeing our heroine fight against as well as learn to adapt to. Clement-Moore wrote the topics perfectly to my tastes, almost as if she altered them specifically for my reading. Not once did I eye roll or groan out of frustration. I was instead flipping pages and devouring the book as quickly as possible, not once letting teen specific issues and family problems hinder my enjoyment.
I really enjoyed the Rhys and Shawn struggle throughout the book. I hate love triangles, I swear their sole purpose is to annoy me. That said, there's a huge difference between love triangles and love rivals. Rhys and Shawn are love rivals. To me the difference between the two is very clear. Love triangles are about the will they, won't they tension, the infatuation and attraction and pretty much the drama of who to choose. Love triangles often aren't necessary to the story and are almost exclusively found in young adult novels, which is fitting as it isn't mature. Love rivals on the other hand are about the characters and usually aids in character growth and self 'awareness' for the main character. It is also typically integral to the story because one of the rivals is either motivated by something involving the plot or whatever happens between the three characters causes some shift in how the plot flows. Wow... anyway that's the end of my rant on love triangles and rivals. I'm so glad The Splendor Falls received the rivals treatment.
I very much enjoyed reading The Splendor Falls. I thought contemporary and history were woven together beautifully with the paranormal binding them. Plot-wise the book could probably have been cut in half but I actually enjoyed how lengthy of a read it was. I found the level of detail and some of the more mundane events to be very fitting to the story. When I think of the south, I think more laid back and easygoing. I believe how this story was told represented that quite well, especially when you know the characters. If Sylvie and Clement-Moore has shared only the fast-paced version, it would have felt rushed and wouldn't have worked nearly as well as how it was actually told. Also the ending was superb, more powerful and satisfying than I could ever have hoped for.
Quotes & Thoughts as I Read:
- Sylvie Davis, the youngest-ever principal dancer for American Ballet, suffered a compound tibia and fibula fracture in front of hundreds of horrified audience members during her stunning debut at Lincoln Center. At least I knew how to make an exit. I've steered clear of any ballet related books until now. I took dance classes when I was younger and don't have a single good memory from that time. I'm a little afraid that is going to carry over into my opinion of the book, which I why I've been avoiding the subject, but how could I possibly pass up a YA paranormal title.
- I stared at the shades in the twilight, all silhouette and gloom, and the trees around me swayed. No ... that was me. I was swaying. Was this what being wasted felt like? I was dizzy and confused and somewhat judgment-impaired, but I still felt in control of my faculties. Certainly not so far gone as to be hallucinating in Central Park. I really like Sylvie. Thus far she's been sort of depressing but I sense a lot of strength from her that has me rooting for her. I'm really excited to see where her 'hallucinations' take me.
- "You're not from around here, are you?" "What was your clue?" he asked, smiling in profile. I skirted around a woman with a cell phone and hair like a helmet. "The accent. And insulting me with a Shakespeare quote." Ohhh, I really like Rhys. I'd really like for him to be the love interest. I like that he's being helpful and kind but not pitying or babying her.
- Maybe it was just normal girl-boy stuff. I hadn't missed the tension between Shawn and Addie, and I wondered how much of her resentment had to do with his friendliness toward me. Then there was Caitlin, who sat near Travis, but his eyes never left an oblivious Kimberly, who, when she wasn't petting Gigi, was playing footsie with Aaron. Dammit, this book was going amazingly too! I hate petty teen drama. ...I hope it at least goes more smoothly than it's looking like it will. That or these characters will just disappear.
- I sighed. "It's driving me crazy already," I answered. "You can report that back to your dad." Sarcasm made me feel better. I mean, I was only nuts if I thought I wasn't, right? Flexing my feet, I stretched my cramped muscles as well as my figurative claws. "Mother was too busy packing to check on her only offspring, huh?" John paused, as if hunting for a tactful answer, then gave up. "They're getting ready to leave in the morning. How are you?" Sylvie's family is made up of some of the most unfortunate human beings ever. I feel so bad for her. They're all pet peeve people for me too so I hope they don't get redeemed unless it's through grovelling. Ha! I'm so petty.
- I stared at her, the towel dangling from my fingers. "The Colonel's study? The colonel who's supposed to haunt the house?" With an impatient sound, she took the dishrag and dried her hands. "Lord, don't you start. Colonel Davis has been dead for a hundred and thirty-odd years. Lots of people have used that room since. Some men cast long shadows, that's all." But I noticed she hadn't exactly denied the haunting part. Yay! Paranormal! I can't wait to see where this famous Davis stuff is going. I'm becoming more fond of ghosts lately. I hope whatever is in this one continues my interest.