Review: 2.5 Stars
I am Moth, a girl from the lowest part of Chrystie Street, born to a slumhouse mystic and the man who broke her heart.
When Moth is only a child, her father leaves her and her mother. They barely survive on her mother’s fortune-telling. When she is twelve, her mother sells her into servitude. But the lady turns out to be abusive. Trying to find another place to stay, she finds herself in the care of Miss Everett, a woman specializing in selling virgins to the highest bidder.
On the one hand, the book creates a great atmosphere. The descriptions of New York are vivid and the setting – slum, brothel, circus – is really interesting.
The most valuable thing a girl possessed was hidden between her legs, waiting to be sold to the highest bidder. It was never a question of yes or no. It was simply a matter of which man would have you first.
On the other hand, this book is lousy with characters. They get introduced, play a part in Moth’s life and then disappear, never to be heard from again. The only one this book cares about is Moth. All the others – not so much.
It had the feeling of a play, with the other characters just stand-ins so Moth wouldn’t stand alone on the stage. We are left with so many loose ends when the book finished, it was annoying.
There’s the kind-hearted woman who took Moth in despite having nothing to spare. Moth’s supposed friend, who gets sick. They all disappear, we never hear from them again.
Staring at me with sympathy, Mrs. Riordan asked, “Have you any place to stay?”
“No,”I replied. I had no one in the world but myself.
“Then you’ll stay here with me,” she said.
We don’t know whether they survived or how they’re doing. And because the book is told from Moth’s perspective, it looks very much like she doesn’t give a shit about any of them.
The book was just too superficial. None of the characters developed much of a life on the page. A shame really, because the style isn’t bad. With more focus on the story and characters, it could have been a great book.
Interesting idea, but utterly forgettable execution.