Thursday, March 10, 2016

A Must-Read-Review of "The Confessions: An Original Sinners Collection" (No spoilers here, promise)

So if you've stopped here in my little corner of crazy more than once, you already know I'm a huge fan of Tiffany Reisz's work. I reviewed her Original Sinners series last fall after finishing The Queen, and it's possible I crossed fingers, toes, eyes, and legs (which seems a little wrong considering the subject matter) when I requested an early copy of The Confessions to review.

Undoubtedly it was the legs that did it.

The Confessions: An Original Sinners Collection isn't available until Tuesdayso this review will contain no spoilers (because spoilers are equivalent dipping your balls in the chocolate fountain: it sullies the experience for everyone else). However, I will say up front that this book is not for newcomers to the Original Sinners. It's worth the journey to get here, so go forth and read all eight, starting with The Siren, BEFORE reading this.

The Confessions is a collection of two novellas which provide more detailed insight into the psyches and souls of both Nora and Søren (hence the requirement that you read the series first). Unlike the other short peripheral tales in the Original Sinners world, neither "The Confession of Marcus Stearns" nor "The Confession of Eleanor Schreiber" is sexual, however both are intensely intimate. Both are intricately woven scenes that expertly reveal secrets on both sides of the confessional (although in neither case do the conversations take place IN the confessional).

To me real star of this collection is Father Ballard. I'd love to have a drink and chat with the confessor to both of the most notorious characters in the series, even knowing he couldn't divulge anything. True to form, Reisz's Father Ballard is a fabulously complex character. Instead of a cardboard cutout for Nora and Marcus to use as a mirror, Father Ballard is a man with his own past and present concerns which color his reactions and give him incredible depth. He's funny and compassionate, insightful and perhaps most importantly, HUMAN. He is exactly the sort of Priest I'd want to talk to if I were Catholic, which appears to have worked for both Nora and Father Stearns as well. Good lord, imagine the kind of man who could hear  all of THEIR secrets and stay sane.

The fourth character in both novellas is, of course, the Church. As with all the Original Sinners episodes, Reisz combines humor, violence, shock, and compassion in new and interesting ways while exploring the "right" and "wrong" of love. The mix of obvious deep respect and blatant irreverence, often exhibited in the same person, is a wonderfully complex portrayal of the difference between the shallow, socially accepted "correct" love and the messy, inconvenient, difficult struggle contained in actual love.

Reisz packs a lot into two short novellas about the internal lives of her characters, and she does it so smoothly the reader is left wanting more, as any good Mistress is wont to do. My first thought after reading "The Confession of Eleanor Schreiber" was "oh man, I wonder what Father Ballard would do with Kingsley." Someday, I sincerely hope that question will cross the author's mind as well, because that would be a show requiring a comfortable seat and a large bucket of popcorn.

Luckily, we are given some insight into the author's take on the characters and their worlds in the final piece in the collection: "The Confession of Tiffany Reisz". I'll admit I normally don't dig interview pieces with authors, for the same reason I often don't watch the "behind the scenes" DVD extras in a movie I love. I don't usually want to think deeply about the secrets of the woman behind the curtain while immersing myself in the work itself. But in this case, the interview is well worth it: funny and interesting, Tiffany's responses only add to the story.

The Confessions: An Original Sinners Collection is available on March 15th, 2016 in eBook and Paperback. If you're a fan of The Original Sinners, I highly recommend picking this one up as soon as it's out, since I read it three times in the first two days and stayed up until the unholy "there is not enough espresso in the world tomorrow morning" hours to finish it the first night. I love to sleep: any book that keeps me awake at 2am to finish it is well worth the read.

The Confessions: An Original Sinners Collection
by Tiffany Reisz
ISBN 978-0-69-264377-8
8th Circle Press
Available on eBook and Paperback 3/15/16

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