Book Review – Dun Lady’s Jess by Doranna Durgin
I so wanted to love this book. All the ingredients for me were there – as a professional dressage rider it was a pleasure to read a book by someone with a total understanding of my sport, and the glorious animals we train. The idea of a horse magically transformed into a woman, and her subsequent issues coping with her body and expanded mind, is genius. And it’s well written too.
I’ve pondered a lot over why it took me weeks to read it, and the lack of connection I felt to the story, and I can’t even pin it down with any great accuracy. All I can say is, I never really found myself identifying with any of the characters at any great depth. Jaime I understood – her devotion to her sport, and her horses – and Jess is fascinating. But I found their experiences somehow less than emotionally deep, and that, I think, is where I failed to engage.
The story is told from several viewpoints. I don’t mind that at all, but none of them touched me on that emotional level that draws me into a book and keeps me turning the pages. The story seems to drag a bit during the first half, with large gaps of not much happening. Once they are transported to Jess’s world it speeds up, but still seemed a little disjointed.
Of all the characters, Eric was probably the most sympathetic, and sadly he’s the only one to not last the story. Dayna just annoyed me until the last few pages, and Mark was rather bland. Carey was also annoying, and his society, while undoubtedly well worked out, seemed conveniently arranged to provide deliberate frustrations to the plot.
The denouement was satisfactorily wrapped up, though a bit too convenient for some of the characters, particularly Jess, and I found the climax a letdown, jumping from physical action to a retelling of what happened after the event.
Overall, I reluctantly give this book three and a half stars, I wanted to give it so much more but couldn’t.
How about you, folks? Have you started a book you are convinced you’ll love, only to find that for some reason you can’t? Did you finish it?