I recently finished reading the novella A Sunset Finish by Melinda Moore. The genre is speculative fiction, one I don’t read very often. However, I enjoyed this brief book. I read it in a PDF review copy, but Amazon lists the e-book edition as 65 pages. (I don’t think it’s in print format.)
Violinist Stephanie Minagawa has just arrived in Albuquerque to play with the orchestra there. Stephanie struggles with self-doubt, depression, and a difficult relationship with her mother, and this move is an attempt to start over. Unfortunately for Stephanie, the first time she plays her violin in New Mexico, it explodes because the arid climate has dried it out too much.
Her stand mate with the orchestra refers her to an instrument repair shop, and when Stephanie arrives, that’s when things really start to happen. As soon as she walks inside the shop, Stephanie sees strange colored lights and figures made of smoke, but when she mentions this to the people at the shop, they grow uncomfortable and refuse to answer her questions. Stephanie and Bruce, the young man who will repair her instrument, quickly realize they are strongly attracted to each other, but each carries wounds from the past. And the unresolved conflicts from the past—Stephanie’s depression and dangerous spirits somehow linked to Bruce—eventually threaten Stephanie’s life.
In addition to the intriguing plot, one thing I like about the story was the vivid but not overblown descriptions. Moore also does a good job giving details of the characters’ back story and revealing them when the reader needs to know. I thought the chemistry between Stephanie and Bruce was conveyed well. Moore also works in just enough of Stephanie’s Japanese beliefs and Bruce’s Native American beliefs to help the reader understand the story, without launching into dry explanations. In one especially nice touch, several chapters open with haiku, supposedly written by Stephanie herself.My one quibble with the story is that at times, Moore isn’t precise enough in her scene setting. At least twice, I was surprised to suddenly learn that more people were in a room than I had thought. These moments of confusion pulled me out of the story needlessly. However, that was a minor flaw in an otherwise enjoyable read.
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