The Splendor Falls
by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Release Date: September 8, 2009 (Hardcover), January 11, 2011 (Softcover)
2009 Delacorte Press
Softcover Edition; 528 Pages
Genre: Young Adult / Gothic
Source: Local Library
4 / 5 Stars
Can love last beyond the grave?
Sylvie Davis is a ballerina who can't dance. A broken leg ended her career, but Sylvie's pain runs deeper. What broke her heart was her father's death, and what's breaking her spirit is her mother's remarriage - a union that's only driven an even deeper wedge into their already tenuous relationship.
Uprooting her from her Manhattan apartment and shipping her to Alabama is her mother's solution for Sylvie's unhappiness. Her father's cousin is restoring a family home in a town rich with her family's history. And that's where things start to get shady. 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. Shawn Maddox, the resident golden boy, seems to be perfect in every way. But Rhys - a handsome, mysterious foreign guest of her cousin's - has a hold on her that she doesn't quite understand.
Then she starts seeing things. Sylvie's lost nearly everything - is she starting to lose her mind as well?
Sylvie was a promising young ballerina with a great future ahead of her until a devastating accident ended her career. Getting accidentally drunk at her mother's wedding didn't help matters, as her psychologically-trained step-father and new step-brother, worried over her state of mind, decide, along with her mother, that several weeks in Alabama learning about her dad's family and his roots would be good for her and her psychological state of mind. Sylvie, knowing little of her father's family, and not caring too much about it, sets off reluctantly to what she considers another prison, and finds her self amidst secrets, ghosts, and fascinating family history she didn't know existed.
I really enjoyed this novel and thought the premise was quite interesting. While a slow-read at first, and a main character who wasn't exactly endearing, it certainly did pick up and became a fascinating novel about the history of the area and characters trying to deal with personal problems and issues in context of their historical pasts. Having an old plantation-house as a setting was the perfect environment for many things to go bump in the night and to evoke chills and goosebumps and to bring out long-held fears and terrors.
I didn't particularly find Sylvie endearing at first; actually, I thought her to be spoiled and vain and somewhat condescending towards others. I liked how she stood up for herself however, and as the novel progressed, and she relaxed and became more self-aware of her actions and her behaviours, she rather grew on me. I understood where she was coming from, and how difficult a time this was for her, but I didn't felt it excused her behaviour. I was really glad to see her character develop from one of "poor little me" to one of "I can do anything I set my mind to". Her little dog, Gigi, while adorable, spent too much time in the limelight for my liking. The novel was not about the dog and I thought there was too much emphases put on her. Just a personal annoyance, and I an a total dog-lover.
The two probably love interests were rather interesting, although it was pretty obvious who Sylvie would end up with in the end. I took a dislike to one of them almost right away, and I couldn't figure out if it was the author's intention or if it was just me for no obvious reason. Sometimes characters remind us of people in our real lives although we don't always recognize the connection at the time, and I wracked my brain trying to figure it out. I did enjoy Sylvie's interactions with both of the swains however, as thankfully, she does not act like a love-smitten idiot, but reacts cautiously and realistically towards both of them. I really like how all of the characters are flawed whereby they can be grumpy as well as friendly, be short-tempered and take things the wrong way, just like anyone. It makes them feel normal and people in whom we can empathize.
The novel is beautifully written, and while it is longish in nature, that didn't bother me as I really enjoyed the descriptive nature and the spookiness about it. One concern I have with this novel is the resolution, as I felt that there was something lacking. Don't get me wrong; I love the paranormal and the supernatural, but something just felt off in the end, although I can't put my finger on it exactly. I personally didn't feel like everything was resolved nicely in the end, and I wish more of an explanation had been given for some of the ghost-related events.
The Splendor Falls was an absorbing, interesting reading with a great amount of spookiness and eeriness thrown in. Beautifully written, descriptive in nature, the somewhat long novel flowed easily between events and chapters, although I did feel that there was something lacking in the supernatural portion of the novel and in the resolution. That being said, I am really glad I read this novel, and I would definitely read further novels by this author.