Inland by Kat Rosenfield
Novel: Inland by Kat Rosenfield | Goodreads Release Date: June 12, 2014 Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (Penguin) Format: ARC Source: Publisher
The psychological labyrinth of a young woman’s insidious connection to the sea, from the Edgar Award nominated author of Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone.Callie Morgan has long lived choked by the failure of her own lungs, the result of an elusive pulmonary illness that has plagued her since childhood. A childhood marked early by the drowning death of her mother—a death to which Callie was the sole witness. Her father has moved them inland, away from the memories of the California coast her mother loved so much and toward promises of recovery—and the escape of denial—in arid, landlocked air.But after years of running away, the promise of a life-changing job for her father brings Callie and him back to the coast, to Florida, where Callie’s symptoms miraculously disappear. For once, life seems delightfully normal. But the ocean’s edge offers more than healing air … it holds a magnetic pull, drawing Callie closer and closer to the chilly, watery embrace that claimed her mother. Returned to the ocean, Callie comes of age and comes into a family destiny that holds generations of secrets and very few happy endings.
Inland is a dreamy sophomore novel swimming in intrigue and suspense. Kat Rosenfield has this gorgeous sense of exactly which words to plop into every sentence; it's incredible. It has the unsteady horror of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer with the sparse prose of Nova Ren Suma's narratives. Kat Rosenfield's writing is what makes this book come alive - it's vivid and it pulls you in with every word.First off, the main character was a bit strange at the beginning, although likable. She had a medical issue that kept her lungs almost drowning constantly: rattling breath, asthma attacks, trouble with even the most mundane activities. She was a little bitter at times but with good reason to be. She was interesting because she was just unstable enough to make you doubt everything she said, especially as the book continued and things spun slowly out of control. Not relatable by any means, but she had an otherworldly quality that added to the undercurrent mood throughout.Callie's relationship with her deceased mother was a huge part of the book. It falls into the absentee-parents trend of YA fiction but it works. Her relationship with her dad was lovable, but cold. Her medical issues and her dad's line of work kept her from becoming close to him, especially because of her mother's death by drowning. Callie flashed back to her mother and the ethereal quality she had for most of the book, tying into the rickety uncertainty of whether or not we could trust Callie as a narrator.This book was gloriously creepy. It unsettled me right from the first sentence and never let go. It never actually comes out and says what the implied issue is; it lets you go back and forth in a magical-realism style plot. Especially because Callie and her father lived on a canal, it wasn't a straight-up ocean story. It was more inventive than that. Towards the end of the book as Callie's mental condition worsened, it got more cryptic and even more magnetic. I loved the mermaid vibe so much. It's definitely a darker twist on the usual story.The only thing I hesitate on - and I noticed this in Rosenfield's debut - is that the pacing was a little slow towards the middle. It focused a lot on her health issues rather than the underlying reason. I would have liked that buildup of tension earlier, because towards the end it kept me constantly flipping pages. There's a struggle between the sense of knowing what the conflict was vs. keeping a muddy, magical-realism feel to it.Despite that, I loved the slow descent into complexity. Episodes of violence and fear were intermixed with genuine emotion and thought that added depth to the story. The surreal mood and absorbing words kept me submerged in the story - roiling and darkening beneath the surface in the same way as the ocean.In addition, the raw story was cloaked with rich subplots. There were some subplots that kept me riveted despite the itch to know what was going on with Callie. There's a sweet friendship-like romance that I really like, stories of woe from earlier schools, a little neighbor who knows more than she lets on. There's plenty to feed the sense of something is not right here.The ending wasn't clear. It was fast and passionate and it got under my skin for sure, but in the most complimentary way possible. It was a bit ambiguous but I did feel like it worked for this kind of story. I would have liked to see it a little more fleshed out because I'm still longing to read more of the book despite having finished it twice, but it was a really good read.In summation, Inland was an eerie exploration of an age-old story of the ocean, wrapped up in psychologically captivating characters. The plot was unpredictable, wavering between the newly sunny ventures of Callie's life and the darker underside as she got closer to the sea. While I had doubts about the pacing and the ending was thoughtfully ambiguous, I was drawn into the story immediately due to the lovely writing as well as the sinister mood. It's definitely one to watch for.Recommended for anybody who loves: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer; Imaginary Girls; Frost; The Near Witch