Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Balm - Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Title: Balm
Author: Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Publication Date: 5/26/15
Pages: 269
Genre: Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: TLC Book Tours
Date Completed: 6/10/15

Summary: The post-Civil War era is often glossed over in history. Yet, for those living in it, it proved a time of uncertainty transitions and searching for the new social standards. P-V explores the lives of three such people, including their dabblings in the supernatural.

What I Thought: I was so excited when TLC offered me the chance to review this book. I read Perkins-Valdez's first book, Wench, several years ago and enjoyed it. It opened my eyes to a part of Civil War history of which I had not been very aware to that point. The fact that the story took place in what was virtually my backyard at the time only made the book more engaging for me.

I went into Balm hoping for a similar experience: an interesting plot, complex characters, emotional moments, and historical education. Unfortunately, I struggled to find much of those qualities in this second novel.

While Perkins-Valdez's characters certainly could be called complex, I found it difficult to connect or empathize with them. Each was flawed - a tactic I do generally appreciate - but in ways which made me put up unconscious walls against them. I wanted to care about their struggles and relationships, but I just didn't. 

Dolen Perkins-Valdez
I did not have the same emotional connection as I did to Wench either. Obviously, that stems partially from my struggle to connect with the characters, but I also felt the subject matter was far less naturally heart breaking. 

As for historical education, this is an era I don't know tons about, but I also don't feel that I learned tons from this book. There were multiple times I forgot altogether the era of the book.  I often felt it could be taking place in a multitude of time periods. 

The book was not bad. I want to stress that to you, here at the end. I just did not think it was that good, either. 

*To read other bloggers' thoughts on Balm, check out the full tour schedule.*

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Nope
Other Books By Dolen Perkins-Valdez: Wench

A Reduced Review: After enjoying this author's first novel, I found myself disappointed in number two. 


  1. Oh, bummer! I really loved this one (I need to post my review) but I hadn't read Wench so I didn't have that expectation. I just finished a 2nd novel by an author who wrote a first novel I adored, and wasn't wild about the 2nd one myself. It can be so disappointing!

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.