Author: Kate Karyus Quinn
Released: April 26th 2016
Length: 355 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Lennie always thought her uncles’ “important family legacy” was good old-fashioned bootlegging. Then she takes some of her uncles’ moonshine to Michaela Gordon’s annual house party, and finds out just how wrong she was.At the party, Lennie has everyone make a wish before drinking the shine—it’s tradition. She toasts to wishes for bat wings, for balls of steel, for the party to go on forever. Lennie even makes a wish of her own: to bring back her best friend, Dylan, who was murdered six months ago.The next morning gives Lennie a whole new understanding of the phrase be careful what you wish for—or in her case, be careful what wishes you grant. Because all those wishes Lennie raised a jar of shine to last night? They came true. Most of them came out bad. And once granted, a wish can’t be unmade…
Down with the Shine, Kate Karyus Quinn’s third novel, starts with a prologue that promises a dark, twisted and very unusual book. The promise is strengthened by our knowledge about Quinn’s previous works, which were always gritty and weird enough to stand out. In Down with the Shine, Quinn takes her unusual approach even further by mixing ideas and genres, albeit with questionable results. It is, it would appear, entirely possible to try a bit too hard to be innovative and fresh. In many ways, this book reminded me of Bad Taste in Boys, but while Bad Taste was purposely silly and hilarious, Down with the Shine failed to be even that.
‘Be careful what you wish for’ is something we’ve all said many times in our lives, but rarely do we really stop to consider the possible consequences of our hidden desires coming true. Quinn explores the cost of wishes made haphazardly by a group of drunken teens, ranging from bat wings to love returned. Not a single wish turns out like the person wanted it to, and the results are often disastrous.
As the daughter of a famous criminal, Lennie always found it hard to fit in. In an effort to join the popular crowd, she brings some of her uncles’ moonshine to a party and follows the tradition of granting wishes, not knowing they would actually come true. Lennie makes many mistakes from the start, but she’s actually the least to blame. The adults in her life failed her spectacularly, and her choice in friends and love interests left a lot to be desired. Her infatuation with her best friend’s brother made little sense from the start, and the more I witnessed their interactions, the more I wanted Lennie far, far away from Smith.
I suppose Quinn was aiming for a darkly humorous tone, but Down with the Shine was neither particularly dark (dismembered bodies notwithstanding), nor was it successful in being humorous. That’s the main difference between this book and Bad Taste in Boys – the latter was ridiculous, but also hilarious. It helped that the book is compulsively readable and entertaining, although never laugh-out-loud funny. Quinn’s prose isn’t thick or pretentious, which makes it very easy to absorb, and she does know how to surprise her readers on every turn. While Down with the Shine isn’t her best work, it can be an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.