Book Review: Running From Secrets by Stephanie Void

17969542Title: Running From Secrets
Author: Stephanie Void
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 23rd 2010
Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon
Review copy provided by the author in exchange for honest review.

Bethany has never felt as alone as she feels in Linwood—until she dreams up Chime, a woman on the run because of a magic crime she didn’t commit. The dreams get more and more urgent, so Bethany tries to banish them by writing them down, only to discover she’s stumbled into the role of unwitting controller of Chime’s world.

Chime is real here, and so is the possessed queen, minion army, mysterious professor, Vault Five, wind chimes with a secret code, child’s rhyme that can kill, the naked painting, and other things Chime’s story leads her to.

She has to fix the story without erasing Chime and her world, because if she erases Chime, she will die as well.

Running From Secrets by Stephanie Void can easily be read as a stand-alone novel, although it takes place in the same universe as Stephanie Void’s previous novel, Halfway. While I enjoyed both books, I thought this one was slightly better than Halfway. I definitely found myself enjoying it more.

Running From Secrets starts by introducing us to our heroine, Bethany. Roughly fifty percent of people keep a journal at some time during their life, and so does Bethany. The only difference is that she doesn’t just write about things in her diary, she’s actually living them. After moving to Linwood, Bethany starts dreaming about a woman named Chime. Chime is on the run because of a magic crime she didn’t commit. Chime’s world is a fantasy world Bethany can travel freely to. I thought that was the most confusing part about this book. It’s never really explained how Bethany can travel between both worlds, where exactly Chime’s world is situated and how Chime managed to find a connection to Bethany and contact her.

What I dod love about the book however, was the imagination and creativity behind it all. Chime’s world isn’t just your ordinary fantasy world. With a healthy dose of creativity, author Stephanie Void manages to turn it into a breathtaking fantasy world with its own set of rules, traditions and beliefs.

What didn’t work were the characters. I have the feeling the author had trouble developing the character of Bethany. Her personality seems contradictory at times, and from one moment to the other she seems to fall into different roles that don’t all fit her. I wish she’d stick to one personality, not venture between different ones, giving me the feeling Bethany suffers from multiple personality disorder, while in fact she’s just not developed enough to stay firmly within one personality. I did like Bethany though, but it was mostly her dialogue that gave me the feeling she sometimes jumped from one emotion to the other without any real reason. The character isn’t fleshed out enough, and it shows.

The bacxkground story is great, but falls short by a big revelation at the end. I simply don’t think it’s possible for someone to keep such a secret (like Bethany did), at least not someone in their right mind. Even if promising to keep it a secret – and I won’t say what not to spoil the book – I just don’t think anyone would keep that a secret for this long. It’s cruel and unthoughtful and it doesn’t make me like Bethany very much. I thought it was too far-fetched as well.

The way of storytelling in this book is unique though, and definitely intriguing. I often found myself wondering if New Velerethland, the imaginary world Bethany came up with, was truly imaginary – a way for Bethany to escape her guilt – or if it had its roots in reality. For a long while, this was left in the middle, and I definitely thought that one of the bonus points of the book.

For me, the most intriguing character was the queen, whose possessed by evil spirits and slowly going insane. She was a great addition to the story, and gave it that much more depth.

If you want to try Stephanie Void’s writing, start out with Running from Secrets. It’s definitely the better one of two books. It shows a lot of promise, has an interesting storyline, an unique way of storytelling and some fun and quirky characters. It’s a quick, but enjoyable read.

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