Review: Firefly by R.W. Clinger

FireflyRating: 3 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novella

I picked this paranormal novella by R.W. Clinger for New To Me Author Week in our Reading Challenge Month because it looked intriguing. A quiet cookbook designer with a mystery evening visitor? Sounded yummy.

Bay Woods has lived in his idyllic saltbox home for years. He keeps a quiet life and two tidy gardens, but he’s noticing the gates are often left open. Approaching his Japanese-American widower neighbor, he’s told that he shouldn’t leave wet towels if he’s going to swim in the pool late at night. Bay isn’t skinny dipping or trespassing there, so someone else must be. But who?

challenge month 2017 copyThe story is a little bit stream-of-conscious as we follow Bay down his rabbit hole of discovery. Clothes are going missing, as is some fruit. He hears footsteps in his home, while he is alone. His dear friend Sam sees a man lurking outside Bay’s home. The neighbor mentions the large numbers of fireflies in their yards, and draws comparison to ancient legends of hotura, souls of dead soldiers brought home by the glowing insects. Bay doesn’t seem to have deep connections to anyone but Sam, whose affection he doesn’t return. Still, he’s captivated by the mystery at his home, and the firefly that seems to follow him. Bay’s a bit eccentric, and chats to his firefly friend often.

The story is quite lyrical, though I’m not sure I could have been patient enough to stick with it for a full-length novel. Bay’s accounts seem disjointed and random, and I had a little trouble with the pacing as a result. That said, I could see Bay’s world well, and his lush garden was almost a character as much as the swarms of fireflies. Bay eventually tracks down his visitor, Christopher, who runs off only to return later. The connection between him and Bay’s friendly firefly seemed a stretch, but, hey, it’s paranormal and I have accepted shifters of all shapes and sizes in this genre thus far. There’s a little bit of steam, but it’s mostly off the page. I wasn’t a fan of the neighbor’s characterization, but that’s my own sensitivity to pigeon-English. The Japanese legend was interesting, and it’s wild that I’ve randomly picked two books this month with Japanese themes. As for the romance, it’s really tame and all happens near to the end, with what seems to be an HEA for Bay and Christopher.

As for reading more books from R.W. Clinger, I might. I didn’t dislike this one, but it didn’t draw me in as much as I’d hoped. It’s really a subtle, quiet story and I had long anticipated the big reveal that happens late in the story, for my taste. The intimacy between Bay and Christopher felt rushed as a result.

This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for New to Me Author Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win a fabulous prize from Riptide Publishing. One winner will win a set of Advanced Review Copies before the books are released (or if it is a non-U.S. winner, an electronic copy of the books upon release). Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a loaded Kindle fire filled with DSP books!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on New to Me Author Week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more details about the awesome prizes!

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  1. I’ve never really liked stream of consciousness stories that don’t have a strong narrative. I don’t think that I’ll try this one.

  2. I will look up this author’s other works.

  3. Thanks for the review — I don’t know if your problem will be mine. So maybe I’ll look out for this book and author…

  4. Karen Chichester says:

    I am with Jennifer as I find stream of consciousness stories to be weak.

  5. The style sounds like it could distract me, even though some of the elements sound good.

  6. I’m glad you mentioned the neighbor’s characterization, Veronica. Stuff that like doesn’t always make it into people’s reviews, and that would annoy me as well.

    • It’s hard for me to accept non-native English speaking characters’ dialogue sometimes. It’s a challenging balance to strike between heavily accented speech and what could be deemed offensive.

  7. Clearly this author writes a good book description, because the book sounds appealing to me, too. I may download a sample to see if the writing draws me in. Thanks for your review, Veronica.

  8. I like paranormal, and this book is really short, so I might chance it. Of course, I’d like a little more romance, but
    as long as I know what to expect it probably won’t bother me too much. Thanks for the review. 🙂

  9. Bronwyn Heeley says:

    I like the idea of different types of paranormal and ones that have deep true or made up history … tho I do prefer them being true. 

  10. Surprising I haven’t read to many stories that come off as lyrical. i think it can be distracting and possible off putting.

    • I’ve really loved some lyrical-type reads in the past. WOLFSONG by TJ Klune is absolutely beautiful. The book is like 800 pages, and I’d have read another 800. And, CARRY THE OCEAN by Heidi Cullinan is a bit more lyrical than her other books. My god. The ugly tears. The book might have broken me for a week. So, I’m always intrigued to see where they are going, and sometimes it’s an amazing journey. Sometimes, it’s just a trip. *shrugs* *picks up another book*

  11. Ooh too bad. This sounded really interesting but the style doesn’t sound like it would appeal to me.

  12. Thank you for your review. But i have to admit that after reading your review i don’t think this is the book for me.

  13. Thank you for the review, Veronica. I must recognise that the cover had caught my eye, and the blurb sounds interesting though… I’m not much in the mood lately for lyricism… I may wait to read this one 😉

  14. I’m interested in the concept, but I struggle with novellas even when they’re strongly written.

    Thanks for the review, Veronica.

  15. I appreciate the thoughtful review as it sounds like I can give this one a miss or perhaps see if the author has other books that might appeal more.

  16. Thanks for the review. I might give this one a try if it were to be offered on sale or free. Otherwise, I’ll give it a pass.

  17. Purple Reader says:

    Thanks for the honest review. I like paranormal, less of the shifter kind, but a firefly and the Japanese legend sound intriguing. Not sure if there’s enough else there to draw me in on this one.

  18. I’m afraid I’ve tried to read this author a couple of times before and no luck, we are not meant to be. Thanks for the review!

  19. I like lyrical written books, maybe i should try this one.

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