Tag Archives: Waverly Place

Book Review: Where The Light Enters by Sara Donati (3/5)

27 Jun

I listened to the first book in this series a few years ago and I remembered feeling a bit frustrated at the end when it was clear that the story wasn’t over. After such a long book, that wasn’t the feeling I wanted. But I’d enjoyed the writing and the the characters and decided to put the second book on my TBR. I remembered a lot of the story when I picked this one up. I’m not sure I’ll give a third installment another try.


Cover image via Amazon

Where the Light Enters (Waverly Place #2) by Sara Donati

Other books by Donati reviewed on this blog:

The Gilded Hour (Waverly Place #1)

Summary from Amazon:

Obstetrician Dr. Sophie Savard returns home to the achingly familiar rhythms of Manhattan in the early spring of 1884 to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. With the help of Dr. Anna Savard, her dearest friend, cousin, and fellow physician she plans to continue her work aiding the disadvantaged women society would rather forget.

As Sophie sets out to construct a new life for herself, Anna’s husband, Detective-Sergeant Jack Mezzanotte calls on them both to consult on two new cases: the wife of a prominent banker has disappeared into thin air, and the corpse of a young woman is found with baffling wounds that suggest a killer is on the loose.  In New York it seems that the advancement of women has brought out the worst in some men. Unable to ignore the plight of New York’s less fortunate, these intrepid cousins draw on all resources to protect their patients.

I had really mixed feelings on this book. The characters are well drawn and I felt I enjoyed the plot that was shared. However, it dragged far too much for me. Each scene, I wondered to myself ‘Is this really relevant?’ There was so much detail that it dragged on and on and on. This was a 26 hour audiobook and I feel like I could summarize it verbally in less than a minute.

Donati’s characters are wonderfully drawn. I felt like I knew them well and they had some nice nuances. However, I’m not sold on them as a whole. I felt there were far too many characters and some had minimal or no role in this part of the story. Ned and Bambina barley showed up at all, for example. Maybe Donati has bigger plans for them later, but they were pointless in this book and I felt overwhelmed remembering all the names of the characters in this book. Also, I felt the mentalities of the characters were far ahead of their times and it took me out of the setting far too often. Yes there were many side characters and antagonists who seemed to fit the time period, but most of the main characters had very 21st Century views in the middle of the 1800s.

Anna was the easiest character to like. It felt like she took more of a backseat in this installment than she had in the previous book where she was the main focus. Sophie shown more in this book and while I liked her, she also felt incomplete to me. A bit part of Anna and Sophie’s identities are being doctors and Sophie wasn’t working in this book. I think she was meant to feel a bit adrift after Cap’s death but it didn’t make for a very compelling lead character.

Without giving away a moment that was meant to feel like a big reveal but didn’t hit too hard, I did have a moment I related to Anna. Like her, I value my career a lot and am proud of how hard I worked to get to where I am. She has accomplished a lot and is right to be proud of it and what she’s been able to accomplish.


Sara Donati Image via Penguin Books

There wasn’t a part of this book I particularly enjoyed. I think that’s a part of why it didn’t wow me. The ending was exciting as the team made progress on the murders that plagued the first book. However, it was so slow and drawn out that it felt like a relief to finally get there and less like an exciting conclusion.

Tonino’s plot line was a huge disappointment to me. The first book focused on him so much and developed him so much, and it seemed to come to nothing. I don’t see how his story developed his sisters, either. I find the two girls interchangeable and I forget often which is which. After being such a focus of the first book, they seemed like an afterthought and inconvenience to the author in this book.

The audiobook was read by Kate Reading, a different narrator than the first book. This isn’t something I run into frequently so I wonder why the change was made. However, I’ve listened to books narrated by Reading before and I enjoy her as a narrator. She did voices for all the characters well and kept the story full of emotion and as much suspense as possible for the duration. I now wonder which of the two will get an eventual third installment.

The story focuses a lot on medicine and disease. I’m thinking specifically of Tonino and Nora, both of whom are seen as incurable and are treated very differently. How we care for the ill varies depending on their age, condition, and history. As doctors, Sophie and Anna treat everyone but these characters make us call into question why car differs and the justice of it. Is Nora less deserving of care because of her past actions and beliefs? It’s hard to say because of what she’s done and what’s been done to her. It’s a good moral quandary for a book, but maybe not one this long.

Writer’s Takeaway: This book was a lesson in length. There was way too much going on in this book and I think a lot of it could have been cut. Characters could be cut, scenes, and subplots. As rich as the world was, it was at the expense of my interest. I felt pulled in so many directions, I didn’t know where to look and it ended up being exhausting.

In the end it had it’s ups and downs, but I think I’m done with this series. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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