Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Book Review: Green Tea

GREEN TEA: Effective use of limited perspective

Green Tea tells the story of Rev. Mr. Jennings, but uses another character as a perspective. Dr. Martin Hesselius, a German Physician, gains the acquaintance of Rev. Mr. Jennings, and on certain occasions, he notices certain peculiarities in him. The doctor speculates that something sinister is bothering the churchman. His speculations prove to be true, when Mr. Jennings approaches him for a professional consultation. However, the cause of the churchman’s condition turns out to be something not scientific, but a supernatural force.

The first thing that gets my attention is Le Fanu’s writing style. It is very gothic. It gives the story a dark undertone. Considering that this is a classic piece, the writing is not plagued with adverbs -- or at least not as much as other classical works. The story is just well written, and the voice is very formal.

The story takes a while to establish itself, so it could be a little slow for those who are not used to reading classics. But again, comparing it to other classic pieces, the pacing is fine. What I really like about this story is the fact that its perspective is not the character experiencing the haunting. It gives a sense of mystery to the supernatural agency. It leaves a lot of room for the imagination.

But it should also be noted that leaving too much room for the readers’ imagination has the tendency to give an uninspired impression to the story. But this is not the case for Green Tea. The haunting is still presented to the readers. Rev. Mr. Jennings has narrated it, but not in too much detail that could spoil the mysterious experience.

Aside from that, the climax of the story is somewhat hidden to the readers -- and this is actually a good thing. As I said earlier, the minimal perspective of Dr. Martin Hesselius leaves room for the imagination.

In terms of characterization, there is not much to be said, because the story is plot-oriented. The driving force is the mystery that shrouds the seemingly supernatural case. But I admit that Dr. Martin Hesselius and Rev. Mr. Jennings are interesting characters. They have contradicting ideologies. The doctor believes that the case is purely scientific, but he is open-minded enough to give consideration to the churchman’s belief that the case involves a supernatural agency. In a subtle way, they present a clash of science and religion.

Overall, Green Tea is a well-written story. The writing style and voice are gothic and formal, too formal in some occasions, actually. But this style has intensified the horrific sequences. The descriptions are not cheesy, and are in fact effective on giving a scare. But what I like the most in the style is the minimal perspective. This is one of the cases that this style has been exploited to the fullest. I recommend this book to those who enjoy classic horror and gothic, and not to those who have short attention spans.

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