I wish I'd loved The Fetch because I adored Laura Whitcomb's first novel, A Certain Slant of Light. Unfortunately, I had to push myself through this one which I chose to review for Amazon Vine. Confusing, boring at times, even perplexing; I have to wonder who the editor was that let Ms. Whitcomb publish such a great premise without great execution. It's not that it's so poorly done; it's more that it could have been so much more.
I've decided that rather than posting a link to my Amazon reviews, I'm just going to copy them here, noting that they are also found on Amazon. I'd still like you to visit Amazon to vote if you feel like it, but with Amazon's bizarre method of counting positive votes these days, I'm just not seeing the point of directing everyone there. So below you'll see my full review with details (is that like "with bells on"? Food for thought there).
The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb
The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb has a terrific premise: Calder, a Fetch (those sent from heaven to "fetch" a dying soul to the next stage), glimpses a beautiful young woman one night as he steps through a Death Door, and finds himself unaccustomedly enamored. When he's summoned back to the same place just a few years later, he becomes even more intrigued--so much so, that not too long after that, he does the unthinkable, breaking his Vows and "borrowing" the corpse of a soul he's been sent to fetch in order to meet this young woman. Imagine his surprise when he discovers that not only is the woman not who he thought she was, he's now inside the body of the feared and despicable Rasputin, friend and manipulator of Russia's last czar and his family. How Calder not only protects but helps the czar's two youngest children after the dreadful executions, but also how he tries to repair the discontinuity his jumping into Earth gives this book a superb plot with lots of promise. Unfortunately, the promise goes unfulfilled for the most part. Laura Whitcomb has a gift for words, but I wish she had written a stronger novel. The Fetch has some gorgeous imagery and the idea of Calder, Ana, and Alexis needing to find Calder's Fetch Key seemed to be a good idea for action that should've kept me on the edge of my seat. Instead, the trio's trip around the world seemed interminable, with lots of repetition and some very confusing appearances by random demons and other Fetches. The characters felt distant; I never got the sense that I actually got inside their skins so I could understand them. The side stories held much potential, yet after turning pages excitedly to see what was coming, I was let down by either the non-action or the odd anti-climax. The ending itself left much to be desired; it's almost as though I was led to a scene expecting something momentous and was handed an abrupt, gentle solution. And the much-touted romance? Well, let's just say I didn't experience a true connection between the characters so I found it confusing and improbable. Not everything in this story is a let down, though. I did genuinely like Calder, and I could understand his self-doubt. I liked the glimpses into his life as a Fetch, and whenever he experienced supernatural reactions, I felt like the story was coming alive. I liked that the story was set in Russia with the Romanovs, and I liked that Whitcomb gave us another possibility for the tragic end of Ana and Alexis. An author's note at the end detailing some of the background to the real history would have been helpful; not everyone will understand the personna of Rasputin so I fear even more of the plot will be lost to young fans. I also think my final analysis of The Fetch suffers because of my deep adoration of Whitcomb's first novel, A Certain Slant of Light. The end result of my finishing this novel is that I'm left pondering what might have been had the story been fleshed out a bit; overall it's not a bad read, but it could have been so much more. Color me a bit disappointed, though I'll probably still look for Ms. Whitcomb's next book.