Reviewed by Anastasia Olashaya-Grill
Paperback: 246 pages
Publisher: Bad Day Books, Assent Publishing (2014)
Available for $12.91 in print or $3.99 Kindle on Amazon
The Light Catcher attempts to tell so much in its pages. The small village where Chantal and her family move to is a lovely English backdrop—quaint, set on the water, picturesque—yet this same village serves as a private Hell for Jules, the tomboy next door who, along with her twin, can never leave the insular life inside their home. Psychic abilities, child abuse, spirit guides, premonitions, and the everyday toils, trials, and tribulations of life and its stalwart progression. Rosi displays a love of lyrical prose with an eye for the beauty in the everyday: a darkling tale fraught with magical realism.
To her credit, Rosi also does not shy away from the realities of domestic abuse and the various forms it takes. Neither does she ignore the scars that come with such abuse nor the lingering pain that takes years to tamp down. Healing, the reader sees, is hardly instantaneous or all-encompassing; it requires a magnitude of dedication each day to move on. The coping mechanisms developed are seldom healthy but often necessary, the only way to survive.
Interlocking subplots serve to offer hints to other mysteries while retaining a quality of the uncanny or the unknown. While this adds many colors to The Light Catcher’s storyline, each thread attempts to stand apart on its own but lacks the strength.
Sadly, the story suffers in places: too many sleights of hand, not enough information to really flesh out a plot point or sometimes too much repetition of previously-given information that drags down momentum, random jumps out of third person limited POV to third person omniscient. Grammatical errors also distract from Rosi’s prose. Mistakes range from missing punctuation and incorrect capitalization to sentence fragments so fractured that they end up a jumbled, abstract mess—which is a shame, as many of these issues could have been prevented by a firmer editor’s hand and a thorough rewrite of a few sections. This book shows promise but requires a bit more polish to make it truly shine.
Even so, The Light Catcher is a short read—and with its many chapters and POV section breaks, it’s a good choice when reading in small bursts. It’s easy to pick up and set down which makes it suitable for reading when watching the clock.
As a young writer, Cynthia Rosi thought Puss-in-Boots was a role model (always in love with stories!) At the age of 20, she emigrated by herself from Seattle to London where she worked as a reporter and wrote two books, Motherhunt (Headline UK, 1998) and Butterfly Eyes (Headline UK, 2011).
Winner of the Ohio Writer’s Contest Short Story Prize, her journalism, creative non-fiction, and short stories have been published in anthologies, online, and in print magazines. She’s currently an MFA candidate at Antioch University, Los Angeles. For more, visit her at cynthiarosi.com.