If this had been shorter. I am sure I would have loved it. But it just went on and on and it took me most of last night and this morning to get through. I loved the plot, and even the opening by Victor LaValle. But the whole book just wanders and then eventually we get to what I consider an odd and open-ended ending. At least I had a chance to read this while I had candles burning nearby.
“The Sundial” with an introduction written by Victor LaValle was a surprising read. I absolutely loved LaValle’s introduction and wish others would learn from him and not spoil readers. I was prepared for a humorous horror novel, but have to say after a while it hit tedium for me. Probably because the Halloran clan wasn’t that great and with the introduction of additional characters, I felt totally confused at parts of the book. I caught myself yawning a few times too.
I don’t know if I liked any of the characters outside of Richard Halloran (the husband of Orianna Halloran). We don’t know what happened to Lionel Halloran, but it’s heavily implied his mother murdered him in order to keep the house. And she swiftly lets all know she is in charge after his death. She plans on kicking out everyone (Maryjane, Maryjane Miss Ogilvie, and Essex) except for her sister in law, Fanny and her granddaughter Fancy. When Fanny gets lost in the gardens and claims to have been given a vision by her dead father’s ghost, the entire household changes. Those who were going to leave, say they will now stay because Fanny has said her father has told her that as long as they stay in the house, they will survive the coming end of the world.
I thought the writing at times was hilarious. I actually started to sympathize for Orianna after a while. Everyone seemed to want something from her except for her husband. When an old friend and her two daughters come to stay, and somehow Fanny brings along a captain, and others, the whole place had the feeling of an insane asylum after a while.
The flow though was pretty bad. After the initial set-up the book just flounders a bit. I think adding in the extra people took away from the family dynamic a bit. I will say though that even among strangers, the Halloran clan is pretty terrible.
The setting of a country home where the “betters” lived and stayed away from the village definitely show the folly with that. The home design sounded quite mathematical at times, except for the sundial which of course just seemed to sit and quietly judge.
The ending though with a party that the Halloran’s decide to throw and include the village of course does not end well. One wonders if they should have listened to Richard and Fanny’s father about not mixing with the village.