Friday, 11 July 2014

Book Review: The Light Never Lies by Francis Guenette

Reviewed by Anna Belfrage

Please see below for giveaway details!

In this the second of the Crater Lake series, Ms. Guenette returns to the small community that hugs the shore of Crater Lake. Approximately nine months have passed since the events described in the first book, Disappearing in Plain Sight, and it has not been easy for several of the characters.
Ms. Guenette presents us with a varied cast. First and foremost, there is Lisa-Marie, not yet seventeen and an explosive combination of attitude and vulnerability. Pretty, intelligent and wise beyond her years, Lisa Marie returns to Crater Lake for the summer, causing a major shock when she appears heavily pregnant.
Lisa-Marie’s aunt, Bethany, is an ethereal, waiflike woman who has for years surrendered her independence for protection, allowing her partner Beulah to make all relevant decisions. But when Bethany develops a sudden and desperate need for a child, when Bethany’s neediness drives Beulah to adultery, their previously so-stable relationship starts to crumble at the edges. Having Lisa-Marie show up big-bellied doesn’t exactly make things easier.

When Bethany and Beulah can offer little or no support, Lisa-Marie is fobbed off onto Izzy, her aunt’s closest neighbour, and Liam, Izzy’s partner. Lisa-Marie and Izzy have an edgy relationship. Izzy is too beautiful, too perfect, too likeable, not to grate on Lisa Marie’s nerves, and besides, there’s the infected matter of Justin, the young man Lisa-Marie is in love with, but who spent all of last summer adoring Izzy. Will things have changed, Lisa-Marie wonders, hating that she is bloated and ugly like a beached whale when Justin is all golden hair, golden skin and soft smiles.
Izzy is a caring adult who somehow rises to the challenge of welcoming Lisa-Marie to her home.  Liam is not quite as thrilled: the pregnant teenager is volatile and difficult, and the entire situation is made even more complicated by the identity of the child’s father – it’s like lobbing a stick of dynamite into a fish-pool and watching the consequences come floating up to the surface.

Lisa- Marie – and the baby’s paternity – are not Izzy’s only concerns. Her father, Edward, has come home to die, some of her patients at the youth camp at which she counsels are having some very serious problems,  and as icing on the cake Liam’s long-lost father shows up, bringing Liam’s unknown half-brother, little Robbie, in his wake.

Ms. Guenette has chosen to tell parts of the stories from Robbie’s viewpoint – and she does so brilliantly, allowing this little boy to regard the unfolding events around him without the normal layers of preconceived notions or social conditioning. Robbie sees people as they are, his innocence the prism through which a person’s inner qualities shine through. An observant child, Robbie picks up on heartache and unease much faster than the adults do, delivering a number of insightful comments that have the reader reflecting on just how much children actually do understand – despite us adults hoping they don’t.
One of my personal favourites is Justin, this young man who is so full of compassion. Well aware of just how attractive he is to the opposite sex, Justin holds himself to a high moral standard. But where a year ago he regarded Lisa-Marie as a kid, this year he realises she is a woman – a very young woman, maybe, but enough of a woman to cause him all sorts of conflicting emotions.

The Light Never Lies has very many point-of-view (POV) characters and at times this causes a fragmented narrative. Some POV characters only have as their purpose to add to the tension of the story – they are interlopers, not part of the Crater Lake community but quite capable of creating considerable havoc and fear. Others are the recurring storytellers, people like Izzy and Lisa-Marie, like prickly Beulah and Robbie, the child who sees the light within each person he meets.
Inevitably, The Light Never Lies marches towards a final crescendo, where the threads of fate of the involved characters end up in quite a messy tangle. As in her previous book, there is a musicality to Ms. Guenette’s prose, and yet again she delivers elegant descriptions and robust dialogue, further bolstered by several well-developed and engaging characters. This reader will definitely keep an eye out for future books by Ms. Guenette, and is glad to report that there will be further instalments in the Crater Lake series.

The author has generously offered a free copy of The Light Never Lies to gift one lucky winner: in the US hardcopy, e-book for all other locations. To enter your name in the draw, simply comment below or at this review's associated Facebook thread

About the author: Francis Guenette is a resident of British Columbia, and her love for the region she lives in shines through in her writing. She lives in an off-the-grid cabin which is powered with alternative energy sources and dedicates most of her time to writing with the panorama of the lake spread out before her window. Her location is remote enough for there to be daily bear visits – an ideal environment for a writer! Read more about Francis on her blog.
The Light Never Lies is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Anna Belfrage is the author of five published books, all part of The Graham Saga. Set in the 17th century, the books tell the story of Matthew Graham and his time-travelling wife, Alex Lind. Anna can be found on amazon, twitter, facebook and on her website. If you would like Anna to review your book, please see our submissions tab above.


  1. Great review.

  2. A very nice review. I look forward to reading the entire series that Francis is wonderfully writing! :-)

  3. Good job, Francis.

    And, I enjoyed this sparkly, shiny review!! ;)