D.L. Lagone’s first full-length novel, Reflection, concerns one woman’s journey to uncover her family’s long-hidden secrets.
The story follows Marie, a middle-aged woman who discovers her deceased great-grandmother’s spirit in an old silver hand mirror. Through her great-grandmother’s stories, she learns about her family’s dark history, tracing its legacy from present-day Connecticut to early 18th century Mexico.
With this magical facet, the creative premise of this tale is intriguing. Some intense scenes, such as a boy helplessly drowning in a river and an addict’s trip to a heroin house, are full of captivating imagery and keep the story moving at a fair pace.
Although the basis of the story is compelling, however, some character development and details fall short. No explanation is given for how Marie’s great-grandmother magically came to exist in a mirror. Also, Marie, arguably the main character, is thinly drawn, scarcely ever more than a questioner of her family’s past history. She vaguely expresses dissatisfaction with her life at one point but this is never explored. Moreover, the abrupt twist ending is in direct contrast to the emotional ties built throughout the story.
The greatest shortcoming of this novel, though, is its train-of-thought writing style, which includes no quotation marks and misuses other important punctuation. Throughout the story, no distinction is made between people talking, either to others or people speaking aloud or expressing their inner thoughts. Consider this sample passage: “Bertie you look beautiful, are my parents treating you well, Oh! Mr. Charles it’s so lovely to have you home, Bertie this is my wife Louise, the housekeeper smiles from ear to ear, so happy to meet you Miss Louise.”
Although Lagone’s debut novel has the seed of an engaging story and includes some descriptive passages that point to her writing abilities, such a lack of proper punctuation ends up being a fatal flaw, making the story nearly impossible to read and enjoy.
Also available as an ebook.