Earlier today, I finished up Covenant by Allan Leverone. I was disappointed, to say the least. The synopsis of the story is interesting enough: fairly young married couple move to small town and buy a house with a history. That history is dark and twisted, centering upon a previous owner that moonlighted as a serial killer. When the husband dies in a freak accident, all suspicion falls upon the surviving wife… and then all Hell breaks loose.
Many of the books I’ve read lately have had a fairly substantial cast of characters. Covenant does not; in fact, I can count the amount of characters in this book on my fingers. Normally one might expect that to be a good thing, as it opens up the opportunity for extremely developed characters. Because this is a short work of fiction, that depth does not exist. The characters are flat and their pasts are, with the exception of the Padgett brothers, a bit too perfect. The Coopers have been together since they were twenty and twenty-one, and their marriage has been perfect bliss. They are joined by a run-of-the-mill detective, an aging medium, and Lindie Cooper’s boss, Debra Moynihan. Considering that the Padgett brothers play an extremely small role, – one of them is only mentioned, – I can’t help but feel a bit put off by the fact that they appear to be more complete than the main characters are.
As for the story’s plot, I truly feel that Leverone could have done a lot more with it than he did. Covenant was a quick read, which worked to its disadvantage. Rather than rise to the climax like most books, Covenant jumped – and it did it in a manner that didn’t quite make sense: freak accident, to mild haunting, to sudden inferno – literally. There were also too many inconsistencies, most notably in the latter portion of the book where most of the action takes place. Lindie manages to knock herself out in a manner that simply is not possible, for example. I won’t delve further into the specifics there, because then I’d be crossing into spoiler territory.
In regards to the style of Leverone’s writing, it definitely isn’t to my taste. Much of it felt too clunky and there were far too many sentence fragments. That’s not to say sentence fragments are a bad thing, because they aren’t. There’s a method to the way they are applied though, and leaving off pronouns entirely is not the way to do it. Some of the writing felt a bit too forced at times, and others it read a bit too much like an over cliched, badly written comedy.
My final complaint has to do with something that occurs at the end of the book, and I feel that it isn’t a spoiler for me to bring it up so I’m going to. After everything is said and done, Lindie compares herself to Hester Prynne. While she is referring to how others see her, I find myself extremely vexed that this comparison was made – largely because Lindie is nothing like Hester Prynne. For anyone that hasn’t read The Scarlet Letter, which is still on the curriculum for most high schools, Hester Prynne was an adulteress that became pregnant with another man’s child while her husband was away. As a result, she was forced to where a red “A” upon her breast and was shunned by her community. Hester Prynne’s suffering at small town gossip should not be trivialized by a character’s poorly conceived notion of how others view her.
I found Covenant to be a quick and easy read, but it definitely didn’t hit the spot for me, so to speak. I’d like to thank NetGalley and the publisher, DarkFuse, for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.