Hello, people of the internet!
So I have been keeping to my New Year’s resolution of reading more romances as I have finished reading this book. What I haven’t been keeping to, however, is just to read a little everyday. Why?
To put it simply, I just couldn’t put it down!
(Before I begin my review, I will put a spoiler alert right…here! You have been warned.)
Title: On The Other Side
Author: Carrie Hope Fletcher
Publication date: 23rd February 2017
Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep. It’s the way most people wish to leave the world, but when Evie reaches the door of her own private heaven, she finds that she’s become her twenty-seven-year-old self and the door won’t open.
Evie’s soul must be light enough to pass through so she needs to get rid of whatever is making it heaving. For Evie, this means unburdening herself of the three secrets which have weighed her down for over fifty before it’s too late. As Evie begins the journey of a lifetime, she learns more about life and love than she ever thought possible, and somehow, some way, she may also find her way back to the only man she ever truly loved…
As a person who is still new to the romance genre, I feel this is a good book to start off with. It isn’t too complicated with its story, themes or characters. I have a lot to say about On The Other Side, but I want to start off with this:
To me, On The Other Side is a fairy tale.
The story itself has a very fairy tale like atmosphere to it with its forbidden love story, cruel parents, true love, and magic (which occurs in both the afterlife and the living world). Even though the magical elements in the living world did feel like it came suddenly without warning, particularly the first time it happened with the bird where Evie and her love interest, Vincent, write their messages on the bird. At first, I thought, “Wait…They’re actually writing on the bird? Is the bird okay with this? Is it some sort of homing pigeon? Who writes on a bird? The bird must be keeping very still so their writing doesn’t get messed up!” Then, later on, Evie’s artwork turns into glass. At first, I thought Carrie Hope Fletcher was being metaphorical until later on when she kept referring to the pieces as “glass” did I realise the artwork has actually turned to glass. The reason why I feel these fantastical elements came out of nowhere – even though in the afterlife, Evie and Dr Lieffe use a temperamental, magical wall for Evie to travel back to the living world – is because during the first third of the story, the only magical elements occur in the afterlife when suddenly magical things begin to happen in the living world, starting off with the bird.
However, despite all that, once I got used to the magical elements occurring in the living world, I was so wrapped up in the story that I didn’t question anything. For me, it even made sense for that to happen. Heck, they even felt a little magical as I was reading it! If those magical elements in the living world were introduced a little better, then I wouldn’t have had this slight problem.
Now, the reason why I put so much emphasis on this book being a fairy tale is because of this: a lot of fairy tales don’t make logical sense, but they make sense on an emotional level – and that’s how I feel about On The Other Side. For example, Evie actually removes her heart from her chest and buries it in the garden because if she couldn’t give her heart to the one she loved, then she wouldn’t give it to anyone. Logically, that doesn’t make sense (heck, she’d be dead way before she turns eighty-two!), but it makes sense emotionally! I thought it was a very emotional moment because by that time, I really bonded with Evie and I fully understood why she made that choice. Besides, I love fairy tales!
However, there is another point I really wanted to make for the readers who are interested in reading this as I heard some readers found this off-putting. The time period isn’t made clear and can be quite confusing to get used to. I had no idea what this book was about and haven’t read anything written by Carrie Hope Fletcher before. So I went in completely blind (well, not blind, I still had to see the words…). At first, when the narrative goes back to when Evie was twenty-seven, I imagined it to be around the 1940s because of when this book was published as well as how women were being treated in the workplace and the old traditions and beliefs towards marriage and sexuality, which are huge plot elements in the book. However, it wasn’t the correct period as there were references to electric guitars, t-shirts, etc. So, this book isn’t set in any specific time period. It did take a bit to get used to, but when the magical elements in the living world began to occur, I scrapped the whole idea of this world being like our reality and instead being in the fairy tale world as it should be.
I know I’ve mentioned a few things I struggled with, but I’m not lying when I say I love this story! Evie is a wonderful woman whose choices and sacrifices are admiring. To me, she’s like a real person. Her romance with Vincent is very sweet and, even though I knew from the beginning it was doomed, I wanted them to be together. Even though the rest of the characters may not be as complex, they served the story well. I love how Evie’s interactions with her family after she passes away bring them closer – it really is an emotional read! I even liked their names (Evie Snow, Vincent Winters, Jim Summers, etc.), I felt it matched the atmosphere of the story.
Even though some of the descriptions can be repetitive and a bit on the nose at times, I enjoyed Carrie Hope Fletcher’s writing. It’s that style that’s perfect for romance. There are even some lovely written passages!
I will give On The Other Side 4 stars out of 5. As someone new to Carrie Hope Fletcher and someone who knew nothing about the book, I really enjoyed how magical and heart-warming this book is. Yes, it may be predictable, but it didn’t bother me in the slightest – and I normally hate predictable books!
Now, I must look out for Carrie Hope Fletcher’s novella Winter’s Snow…
Thank you for reading!