Dead Letter Office by Kira Snyder
Pub. Date: January 11th, 2012
Series: Parish Mail, #1
Age Level: 14+
Source: For review from publisher.
Synopsis via Goodreads
When Celia’s father is killed in Afghanistan, she moves with her mother to New Orleans, the city where her father grew up. Struggling to adjust and haunted by troubling dreams, Celia finds comfort in new friends like Tilly, a practicing witch, and Donovan, the son of police detective. On Halloween, bizarre supernatural occurrences rock the city. Celia meets the mysterious Luc and finds a letter, over a hundred years old, addressed to her.
The paranormal repercussions continue when Celia learns that Luc is the restless spirit of a young man murdered in 1854, only able to assume solid form at night. And then, to her shock, Celia finds that the letter, which describes the suspected murder of a man in 1870, contains uncanny parallels to the present-day death of Abel Sims, a homeless veteran.
With help from Luc, Tilly, and Donovan, Celia races to solve the murder—and the mystery of the letter—using both magical and forensic clues.
This is an Active Fiction title
"Active fiction" is a new type of e-reading experience that allows the reader and the author to interact with each other and the text in new and different ways.
Dead Letter Office is a fun, though somewhat flawed, debut from Kira Snyder that thoroughly shows off her creativity and imaginative skills as a story teller. While I did have my problems with it, the plot really shined and I found myself enjoying Dead Letter Office overall.
My biggest issue with the characters was that I felt that they were underdeveloped. They all had their own individualistic personalities, etc, but they lacked a sense of real depth, in my opinion. Celia, Tilly, and Donovan all seem to be pretty face-value characters and I would really like to see more. The characters I feel have the most potential to surprise me are Luc, Sloan, and Peyton, all of whom appear to have more going on with them. Other than that, I did like our main characters and disliked Peyton and Sloan, like I should. I think I may actually prefer Donovan to Luc, poor human boys just can't get cut any slack these days, but I'm much more curious about Luc. Celia seems to be a heroine with some potential to be great and her emotions and regret regarding the death of her father and their last conversation were very palpable and keenly portrayed. I'm not exactly loving her at this point but feel I might later on as I see her get more time to grow. Another little issue I had with the characters was the occasional conflict between them sometimes came off as too quickly resolved, like the short length of the story was rushing any problems to a solution. For example, when Celia and her mom get into it. Celia immediately feels bad afterwards and is very quick to apologize. Now, generally this is good but that seemed to be her reaction to each such conflict and it became a little unrealistic.
Dead Letter Office is my first ever 'Active Fiction' read. I had never even read one of those 'choose your own adventure books' when I was little, for that matter. I have to say, I loved getting to choose which direction the plot went and I approved of how you always reached the same destination, you just affected which path the character journeyed to get there. My one main issue, which isn't really an issue, is that I wish there had been more opportunities throughout the book to choose how things happened. Not a lot more, but just maybe a couple or so. As for the plot itself, I love books set in New Orleans and the story was very...voodoo Nancy Drew with its magical, witchcraft elements stirred in with a murderous mystery. I was expecting/hoping the story was going to be darker than it was, just because I wasn't in the mood for light at the time, but I ended up enjoying it just the same. The plot also moved very quickly, and while a little predictable, was sufficiently compelling, not to mention original. I mean, come on, an old tree with a hidden compartment that sends mysterious letters from the past about a murder connected to a similar one in the present? How cool is that?
The writing was...well...it just was. I didn't particularly dislike it but nothing about it really stood out to me as being great or particularly well polished. If nothing else, it was at least consistent throughout and quickly read.
The ending was a bit tricky in that there was one place that seemed a lot like a good place for the book to be ending, but then it continued on for an additional segment before actually drawing to a close. That said, the way the book ended was quite adequate in that it resolved any immediate conflict while leaving things set up nicely for the next installment.
Characters: A little flawed but likable. They could have been a bit more developed.
Plot: Compelling, original, and fast-paced with rich setting.
Writing: Sort of indifferent to it. Writing could have been better but wasn't bad.
Ending: Pretty good way to wrap up the story.
1st in Series: A fairly solid start.
Enjoyment/Likability: This was a fun, kick back and relax kind of read.
Recommendable: Yes! Despite flaws, still a good read.
Overall: Dead Letter Office isn't perfect but I look forward to seeing the author grow in her writing, and the story deepen, as the series continues. I really liked the active fiction aspect, but would have liked to have seen more chances to choose paths pop up. A quick and original story that I enjoyed reading.
Cover: Very different but like it pretty well. Fits plot, though it makes book seem potentially darker than it is.
Kindle / Nook