Top critical review
Go Tell the Bees That the Magic Has Gone
Reviewed in the United States on November 26, 2021
I'm a huge fan of this author and series, and have been waiting for this book for years. I have reread the previous ones dozens of times.
I'm surprised and quite disappointed by this entry.
I have come to love the wild round of kidnappings, shipwrecks, witchcraft trials, betrayals, gunshot wounds, and good intentions leading to life-threatening outcomes that swirl around Claire and Jaime.
Time travel, action, drama, snappy dialogue, rich historical detail, war, sardonic humor, a grand romance- these books have been packed with crazy, juicy goodness.
This book is a complete anomaly. It reads flat and feels phoned-in. Almost nothing happens in the first 2/3, which consists mainly of sentimental musings on daily life and child-rearing.
The narrative is annoyingly diffused as we follow 6-8 different groups wandering around on side quests and- well- musing about the nature of family and child-rearing.
The last 1/3 has a little action that feels forced and almost apologetic.
I read this series because I love Claire and Jaime, Brianna and Roger (well, Brianna anyways), Fergus, Young Ian, Jenny, Lord John, William, etc.
That has been quite enough people to follow in the past- but in this one, for some reason, Gabaldon dilutes the storyline even further by dragging in random minor characters from previous novels, who are dusted off and given waaaay too much space.
Why are they given almost as much "screen time" as Claire and Jaime? No one is reading this series because we care about what eventually happens to a character that was in a novel two books ago for 4 pages.
Adding insult to injury is that I get the sense we're actually supposed to care about some of the pretty annoying ones, such as Amaranth, Frances, Agnes, and Elspeth. They're not real villains, just unlikeable, poorly written, and not compelling.
I am extremely surprised this bland, tedious novel came from Diana Gabaldon's pen, but there does seem to be a pattern. Authors whose books become popular TV shows or movies take time off, advising or producing or whatever, and for some reason the next book is usually terrible or simply never appears.
J.K. Rowling, Kerry Fisher, George R.R. Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, et. al.
I'm glad they get the recognition and the coins, but it's a real pity for the fans. We deserved better after such a long wait.