2013; 226 pages. New Author? : Yes. Genre : Dark Fantasy. Overall Rating : 8*/10.
16-year-old Macy Winters is at death’s door, due to an infection that has developed into sepsis. The final thing she hears while lying in the hospital bed is the doctor debating whether to put her in an induced coma as a last-ditch effort.
The next moment, she wakes up in a comfortable bed, with two other girls greeting her by name and welcoming her to the village of Chanticleer. Superficially, it seems like a teenage paradise. But there are lessons to be learned, and the place has its dark secrets. Like sometimes a kid will simply disappear overnight. They say he “tipped back”, but who knows for sure? And no one wants to talk about the shells.
What’s To Like...
The target audience for The Shells of Chanticleer are young-teenage girls, probably up to Macy’s age (16). As such, there is no sex, cussing, nudity, or violence. There is some Romance, naturally, but it’s limited to kissing and cuddling.
The storyline is original. The characters are all well-developed, although a couple of them (Rafe, the Prime Minister, etc.) seem to have a brief time in the spotlight, then fade into the background. Bing is uber-kewl, though. You’re going to enjoy meeting him.
Macy is an inquisitive sort, and it’s fun to “walk alongside her” as she tries to unravel the various secrets of Chanticleer. There are lots of twists along the way to keep you guessing as to what’s going on. Macy’s ultimate issue (“Should I stay or should I go?”) is masterfully resolved, and not in the way I anticipated.
“Wow,”” I said. “So you’re saying that I’m a wimp?”
“Well, I wouldn’t use that word. We are not pejorative here, as a rule. But you are a little unbalanced. What I mean is you need a better blend of imagination and reality. We don’t want to see your real potential buried under a lot of imaginary fears and self-imposed roadblocks and anxieties.” (loc. 681)
“I have to keep playing mud soccer until I enjoy it,” she said. “And I hate it. Hate. It. Did you have fun?”
“I liked it,” I said. “Mud comes right off. It’s no big deal.”
“Yes it is,” Zooey insisted. “It’s full of microbes and germs and deceased insect particles and larvae and cricket casings. It’s horrid. By the way, you need to put those clothes in a plastic bag out in the hall so someone will take them away.” (loc. 1443)
The Shells of Chanticleer sells for $0.99 at Amazon. At the time of this review, it is Maura Patrick’s only book at Amazon.
“It’s Chanticleer, a benevolent world, though it might not always seem so.” (loc. 971)
There are a few inconsistencies towards the end of The Shells of Chanticleer. Macy’s final challenge is quite the paranormal romp, which contrasts to all her humanly-contrived challenges up to that point. Also, the history of Chanticleer is partially revealed, but gaps remain and there are some pesky loopholes in the logic.
We’ll skip the details due to spoiler concerns, but give props to Maura Patrick for not being afraid to address the whys and wherefores of the place. And I frankly doubt that YA girls who read the book are going to get hung up on the world-building mechanics.
I found the pacing and storytelling of TSoC to be excellent. Despite not being the target age or gender for the book, it was a page-turner for me. Perhaps more of the Chanticleer’s history/mystery will be dealt with in a sequel. 8 Stars. Add a half-star if you’re a girl, and another half-star if you’re aged 12-15.