The Bottle Stopper by Angeline Trevana
“Too much trouble, and you’ll end up just like your crazy mother.”
Maeve was six when they took her mother away, and left her in the care of her Uncle Lou: a drunk, a misogynist, a fraud.
For eleven years she’s lived with him in Falside’s slums, deep in the silt of the Falwere River. She bottles his miracle medicine, stocks his apothecary shop, and endures his savage temper.
But as his violence escalates, and his lies come undone, she devises a plan to escape him forever. Even if it means people have to die.
A dark and gripping thriller set in a future dystopia. If you like stories of oppressive governments, genetic selection, mass murder, and the fight for freedom, if you look for unlikely heroes and always root for the underdog, you’ll love The Bottle Stopper.
The Bottle Stopper started a little slow for me. In fact, were it not for the fact I promised a review of the book, I may have stopped reading it altogether before I made it to the first quarter mark. However, now that I’ve finished it, I’m glad I stuck with it and am heartily looking forward to the second book, The Matching, which is due to be available this spring.
The Bottle Stopper is definitely very dark, with no holds barred when it comes to abuse, death, secrets and lies. Angeline’s style of writing is easy to fall into, though for me, the physical descriptions of Falside could be expanded upon more. (Though, this is purely due to personal preference). While I could picture the apothecary and the bakery and individual places, the city as a whole somehow seems to escape my grasp.
There is a certain death at… around the 1/3 mark (one of many), that leaves the protagonist, Maeve, with feelings of (misplaced) guild and remorse, as well as (righteous) hatred for her uncle Lou. However, to me as the reader, the death didn’t have as big an impact. The character was there, and present, and was friends with Maeve, but I just never came to care about the character. That death could have been much better handled. I feel like that death had as much impact as the numerous others that are detailed in the remainder of the book.
Now, recall how I said the beginning of the story started slow? I figured out why it seemed that way at around the halfway point. Angeline reveals little tidbits of truth through the novel. So, obviously, at the beginning, we know little about the circumstances surrounding Maeve, other than she was left with her abusive uncle. (At this point in the book, all we are meant to do is form an attachment to Maeve; and, I’ll be honest, I flinched or cringed every time Uncle Lou became angry.)
Through the remaining book, we are given snippets of other’s lives, and how the actions of this one little slip of a girl on the Floor can have far reaching consequences. Not only that, but we are introduced to some other characters and, rather late in the book, are given more snippets of truth regarding Maeve’s mother, and father, and the bookshop, and everything starts coming together like the pieces of a puzzle.
Despite the slow start and everything, I love, Love, LOVE the setting, and the characters, and the questions. And I’m giving it Five out of Five stars. Amazing, no question.
About the Author:
(Image used from her website linked above.)
Born and bred in a rural corner of Devon, Angeline now lives among the breweries and canals of central England. She is a horror and fantasy author, poet, and journalist.
In 2003 she graduated from Edge Hill University, Lancashire, with a BA Hons degree in Drama and Writing. During this time she finally decided that her future lay in writing words rather than performing them.
The most unlikely of horror writers, Angeline is scared of just about everything, still can’t sleep in a fully dark room, and goes weak at the mere sight of blood.
Still religiously checks the back of every wardrobe she comes across for a passage to Narnia.