Disclaimer: I received an advance reader copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. The copy I received was not the final copy, but rather the one issued to beta readers.
The Curious Tale of Gabrielle by Zachary Paul Chopchinski is a young adult novel that blends historical fiction and magical realism. In the novel, the protagonist, Gabrielle, is given a magical bracelet that allows her to transport through time and place to experience the lives of the bracelet’s previous wearers through their eyes. This novel is the first in the series, and it covers how Gabrielle receives the bracelet and the first wearer’s life.
Right away, the reader is fond of Gabrielle. She is spunky, curious, and intelligent (as exhibited by the sophisticated tone and vocabulary of the narrator). When faced with situations that would terrify most young people, Gabrielle displays boldness and compassion. Like Gabrielle, the supporting characters have distinct personalities. The three key supporting characters: Alexandra, Heather, and Fionn, are well-developed and each have clear motives in the novel. Their relationships to Gabrielle are purposeful and emotional.
The plot of the novel moves quickly, but the fast pace is comfortable to the reader given the amount of action in the novel. There is rarely a dull moment as Gabrielle moves from one experience to another and slowly learns about the power of the bracelet. Without providing spoilers, I will say that the ending of the main plot leaves a few questions for the reader and the stakes do not feel as “high” to the reader as they may to Gabrielle. However, the ultimate ending of the novel is a strong cliffhanger that will leave the reader anxious for the next book.
During my beta read of the novel, I only had three criticisms. First, there are times where the writing did more “telling” than “showing.” Second, the point of view varied slightly between third-person limited and third-person omniscient, which can make emotional scenes somewhat jumbled. Third, the specific settings of the novel (Gabrielle’s hometown and the place she is transported) are unclear. However, the vagueness of Gabrielle’s hometown contributes to the novel’s sense of timelessness, and the place she is transported is discernible by a reader with sound historical knowledge.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed The Curious Tale of Gabrielle. Chopchinski’s writing style contributes to the timelessness of the novel as well as Gabrielle’s intellectual sophistication. Gabrielle, herself, is everything a young girl wants to be, and her adventure is exhilarating, moving, and when necessary, scary. With a bit more writing experience, Chopchinski will easily overcome my few technical criticisms, but regardless, I have full confidence that the rest of the series will be just as fun and engaging as this first novel.
If you are interested in reading The Curious Tale of Gabrielle and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it at my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.