Title: The Splendor Falls
Author: Rosemary Clement-Moore
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 2011
Source: from a friend
Devastated by a freak accident that has left Sylvie Davis recovering from a broken leg, the now-retired professional ballerina escapes the bustling city of New York, where her mother has remarried a psychologist who over-analyses every aspect of Sylvie’s life, for the southern comforts of Alabama, where she is enlisted by a distant cousin to help renovate the family home she never knew.
Mystery abounds when she arrives at Bluestone Hill, as Sylvie is haunted by the house’s long forgotten past and its ghosts. Hoping to regain her sanity by moving to Alabama for the summer, Sylvie instead finds herself attempting to understand the house’s past, while also attempting to uncover the mysterious Teen Town Council led by the local teenagers.
Following the brief synopsis above, I would like to begin by stating that although I felt annoyed by some aspects of this novel, it was a quick and easy read and I rather enjoyed uncovering the supernatural mystery with Sylvie.
The beginning of the novel finds her struggling with the trauma of her accident, as well as dealing with her mother’s new marriage and the imposition of a new family she barely knows. I found Clement-Moore’s use of the supernatural, in regards to Sylvie to be quite interesting — the concept of being able to see the past unfold before you while you are still in the present, is one that I felt was intriguing and definitely important to the plot.
I felt that Sylvie, despite her training as a professional ballerina, was a typical teenage girl. She meets the brooding, mysterious, and witty Rhys Matthew from Wales, and the too-good-to-be-true Shawn Maddox, whom immediately become her love interests. Unfortunately, despite Sylvie’s best efforts to stop any feelings between her and either boy, there was the mention of strange magnetism and allure every time she saw or interacted with either of them, which became increasingly more annoying as the novel went on as they made me feel as though their message, although possibly unintended, was that “girls can only gain respect and validation from boys and that she must choose one of them”.
Apart from the icky feeling I got from reading those passages, I also felt that the second half of the novel became repetitive. For several chapters, Sylvie performs the same daily routine almost page after page, and reading about her dependence on her dog Gigi, also became more and more annoying, and unnecessary, as I read on.
Overall, the novel became increasingly better as the supernatural mystery at Bluestone Hill developed. I found myself truly intrigued in the house’s secrets and found myself excited for Sylvie to uncover the truth. I found myself extremely interested in the historical fiction included in the novel, and I was always looking forward to Sylvie’s visits to the archaeological digs, as well as her her conversations with Rhys’ father and coworkers about the history and mythology of Bluestone Hill and Maddox County.