The Mourning Emporium by Michelle Lourie: A Book Review
Judging A Book By Its Cover
Do you remember the popular store Hastings?
Before Hastings went out of business, I would wander the aisles for hours looking at all they had to offer.
Music, games, DVDs, books, and more!
On one of my last trips to Hastings, before they filed for bankruptcy which in turned made them shut their doors for good, I decided to wander the clearance aisle.
There I spotted Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister which caught my attention as I had just finished reading the politically driven and famous story Wicked by the same author, Gregory Maguire. But before I could reach for it, a glimmer of gold caught my eye. There sitting next to it, The Mourning Emporium in bright gold letters stood out along the spine of the cover. The authors name, Michelle Lourie, written in a beautiful script sat below a drawing of a porcelain skinned mermaid.
Instead of grabbing for the ugly stepsisters my hand changed course pulling out The Mourning Emporium instead.
There across the front cover in the same large gold letters the name read along with the mermaid found on the spin. To accompany the mermaid, a ghost looking ship sat in the background while the blueish black color of the cover gave the feeling of old timey sadness and sorrow.
With that, I grabbed the book placing it under my arm ready to check-out. I didn't need to know what the book was even about as the cover had sold it entirely. What was even better... it was on sale!
It's been over five years since Hastings has closed with The Mourning Emporium still sitting on my book shelf waiting to be read. Instead of just staring at the beautiful cover I decided to finally turn the pages and see what waits inside.
Overview of The Mourning Emporium
The Mourning Emporium is the sequel in The Undrowned Child Series where we follow the main character Teo and her best friend Renzo known as The Undrowned Child and the Studious Son. After a horrible ice flood takes out their city of Venice they are certain their old enemy Bajamonte Tieplol is back for vengeance, and not only plans to take out Venice, but the bustling city of London as well.
Along the way they meet new friends while taking on giant squids, defeating ghosts from the past, while learning to mourn at strangers funerals. One bad thing after another doesn't hold this duo back as they try to save everyone around them from the evil Bajamonte Tieplol.
The Cons of The Mourning Emporium
· Nowhere On The Cover Does It Say It's A Sequel
I'm not a fan of reading books out of sequence which is why it is disheartening to find out The Mourning Emporium is the sequel in a book series. Nowhere on the front or back cover is this information given, or in the book description found on the inside cover. Unless you turn back to the author's biography will you find this information in the second paragraph. A place most people don't look when checking out book to read.
· Advanced Reading
For a book meant for young readers a.k.a middle schoolers, I found the vocabulary a bit advanced with long detailed descriptions. Even though beautiful, I found myself unable to keep up with what was being said. I felt the author's excuse was because the two main children loved words that it was acceptable to write so elaborately.
The dialect of the characters was also extremely hard to understand. Because most of the book was set in London 1901 the author tried to stay true to how people living on the streets spoke back then. This made it almost impossible to figure out what the characters were actually saying, and often times I skipped over it as it either wasn't pertinent to the story, or so hard to decipher I gave up.
Most of the book covers about a month's and a half worth of time of which most of the book is spent in the first two weeks. Somehow in the first two weeks the children somehow manage to learn how to sail a ship, become pirates, escape from the Mayor of Venice, sail to London while on the way their mentor is killed then are tortured by an evil lady name Miss Uish, and become helpers to The Mourning Emporium where they attend funerals to mourn the dead.
There is so much more that happens within such a short amount of time, but I honestly can't think of it all. The weird part is the main characters reminiscing over their time acting as if it happened years ago without being phased. Even in a fantasy book this was way over the top and unnecessary.
· Too Many Characters
The author somehow managed to fit almost three books worth of characters into one while also describing each of them. It was so unnecessary as most didn't take part in the story at all. Almost all the characters had two or three names to go along with them(something that was common back in the day), but for it being a YA novel, it was hard to keep up with who was who, and if you should get attached to them.
· Too Many Action Scenes
The Mourning Emporium was filled with action... to much in fact. It's as if the author thought of every action scene possible and wanted to include them all in one book. There was no lull in the story to give the reader time to process what exactly was going on before it suddenly jumped to the next scene.
Because of this the scenes were described poorly and shortly leaving you wondering what actually happened. It also made the entire book feel flat as there was no rise or fall in the storyline.
· The Bad Guy
With this book being the sequel, you don't really get a sense of how bad the villain of the story is since he doesn't show up until the last 40 or so pages. Even though there are some other crappy characters such as the Mayor, Miss Uish, and some Ghosts-Convicts, there doesn't seem to be a need to worry about the children as they escape every situation that comes their way making you wonder what they are so scared of and why you should care about them.
When Bajamonte Tieplol does finally appear he doesn't do anything drastic leaving you wondering why he was a threat in the first place.
The Pros of The Mourning Emporium
· Short Chapters with Beautiful Header Designs
I love when authors have short chapters in a book so it gives the reader some time to stop and think about what's happening. The chapters in this book ranged from 1 to 7 pages with each chapter topped with a beautiful design related to it. Almost every chapter has one character as a point of view letting you see the story from every angle.
· Animals and Magic
The story involves some great elements of magic and mystical creatures including mermaids, ghosts, talking dogs, and flying cats. The main character Teo is drawn to them while they also help her out of sticky situations.
· The Mourning Emporium
The concept of mourning is very interesting and I think the author nailed down the details of what that was like back in 1901. Mourning a loved one has changed quiet a bit since then when people would wear black for months, if not years, when a loved one died. It was more of a celebration in a sense which is a great concept to bring to a book-something I haven't seen before.
Overall Review Summary
Wow I don't really know where to start with the overall summary other than to say this is probably one of the worst books I've ever read!
The Mourning Emporium, even though 378 pages, is small in size probably only 250 when compared to other novels, but somehow the 378 pages felt like a lifetime to read. I dreaded opening it to continue on every night. I'm honestly shocked I didn't put this book down...but then again I wouldn't have a book to review for the blog!
As you can see from the pros and cons listed above the cons were pretty long. The list could've been twice the amount, but I felt that might be a little overboard.
Overall I rated this 0 out of 5 stars...yikes!
Even though the words were beautiful and elegant they didn't hold any meaning to the story. There was no character development anywhere throughout plus the author didn't know how to connect one scene from the next. The connection you should've had to main characters was lost in translation as any bad situation that happened to them was magically fixed one way or the other as they jumped straight into the next action scene.
The villain showed up for a couple of pages in the last bit of the story as if he was a second thought in the whole thing while the end fighting scene was a whole two pages. A very disappointing ending for such a large build up.
So much of this book could have been edited down along with unnecessary characters and action scenes that could have made this book a best seller.
Thank goodness this book was on sale because it is not worth the $10 it is selling for. So with that am I going to get rid of the book?
The simple answer is "No".
Yes the story is awful, but the cover is still one of my favorite book covers to date. I'll keep it for that reason alone but I definitely won't be reading The Mourning Emporium again.
If you are interested in a great read check out my children's picture book Princess Gabriella and the Never-Ending Kiss. You can purchase it on Amazon, in eBook, format for only $9.99! Or get a physical copy at Blurb.com for $32.99!