The Hawkman

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

This book is a unique fairytale set after the Great War. The story follows Mr. Sheehan, aka "The Hawkman" and Miss Williams, a college teacher. Mr. Sheehan has an appearance that suggests a bird like resemblance, hence the nickname. Miss Williams allows Mr. Sheehan to stay at her cottage because most people think he is strange and dangerous. The more Miss Williams opens her heart and life to Mr. Sheehan, she begins to get sick and eventually needs to get treatment from doctors. The doctors don't know why she is sick, and the only one who seems to help her is Mr. Sheehan. Over the course of the story, some people learn from the pair, and some remain prejudiced. 
I thought this was a weird tale, and I found myself skimming through it because it was so strange, and some of the realistic war details were a little too much for me. I usually am able to finish a book and I haven't met many books I didn't like, but this one was just not my cup of tea. I'm sure some people will enjoy it, so give it a try if you think you might like it. I will say that I was sympathetic to the two main characters' plight and some parts of the book were well written, and the author seemed to do her research.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. A positive review was not required, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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This book was good for people who like odd tales. I could follow the plot despite some twists and turns. An odd romance
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I have enjoyed this book and the author has written it so beautifully with such detail. It took longer than I would normally take to finish a book because I was slowly absorbing every detail to create this picture in my head and it was really great!
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Drawn in by the cover, the intriguing description, and the promise of magical realism, I was, unfortunately, a bit disappointed by the story. Maybe my expectations were to high. 

The story of two main characters takes place after World War I in England, it's a Grimm Fairy Tale retelling. This main plot is interspersed with fairy stories and flashbacks. 

The writing is very good. I just had the feeling that this story wanted to be more than it actually was, it was trying a bit too hard.
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Well that was.... interesting? I know this is meant as a sort of fairy tale and there are many fairy tales within it, but they all seem quite opaque. I think I would have preferred this as just a straight story, as both main characters have very interesting backgrounds. Having it pegged as a fairy tale made me expect more supernatural elements, when really, this was more about trauma and mental illness.
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I received and ARC copy of The Hawkman: A Fairy Tale of the Great War by Jane Rosenberg LaForge in exchange for an honest review. Thanks goes to NetGalley and Amberjack Publishing for this advanced reader copy which was released on June 5, 2018.

This book, just shy of 300 pages was gruesomely painful for me to get through, and I’m using the kindest words possible to explain how treacherous a trek this read was for me. It took me a whole four months, probably the longest I’ve ever spent reading a single novel. If it takes you this long to read a rather short book there is either a serious problem with your comprehension or you simply prefer to be happy than to put yourself through the pain of 280 pages filled with a story you simply, no matter how hard you try, cannot get absorbed into. 

I was intrigued by The Hawkman by the cover art to be quite honest, with mystical creatures and alluring fonts. Even the synopsis, promising a tale of the world during the Great War, infused with a fairy tale imagination seemed promising of an instant classic. However, despite some interesting parts hear and there, The Hawkman proved to be a disappointing and tedious read for me. 
Jane Rosenberg LaForge’s The Hawkman is written within the context of the disastrous events that turned the world upside down in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The story unfolds around two individuals from opposite realities but whose paths unexpectedly meet and are doomed to a helpless intimacy. Eva Williams is an American school teacher living in a small cottage in the English village where she works. Michael, or rather, the Hawkman is an Irish musician suffering post traumatic stress following his experiences during World War I. Eva tellling stories, and the Hawkman humbly begging charity in the streets, are living rather peaceful and uneventful lives at the time that the story begins. Eva meets this estranged man whose experiences in war have left him thinking he’s a bird, and tries to restore him. Their lives change and are turned over when Eva comes across the Hawkman on her way home one day, after having heard disturbing, yet misleading tales about the depressed figure. Eva takes the Hawkman into her home and the two live quietly in sync with each other’s lifestyles up until the skeptical community breaks apart the serenity the two have built together. 

If the complexity of the story had been left at that I would have thoroughly enjoyed and finished it months ago. But no. There’s more, so much more going on than a fairy tale during the Great War. So many more stories unfold and blur together, making it at times extremely difficult to follow and almost entirely impossible to concentrate on. At unpredictable points the story would wander off into fairy tales that were pages long, leaving me confused at times, being left to meet new characters and make connections between the multiple stories I was reading at once. There are also snippets of Eva and Michel’s past lives. There were even points that yet another story would unfold within another like during the stories of Eva’s mother who would tell Eva stories as a child. From here, time, context, narration would change and the story would become a dramatic and in depth portrait of the lives of soldiers during the war. 

The way the book was mapped leads me to believe that perhaps even the writer wasn’t sure what story she was telling. I adore the concept of a schoolteacher escaping war to a new world getting by fairytales and whose life changes when a man who thinks he’s a bird becomes a part of it. It’s charming, intriguing and makes for a legendary tale. However a book not even 300 pages should not attempt a writing technique that is more fit for a more Proust-length sort of novel. The short page count compared with the complexity of the novel left much of it seeming undeveloped. We are introduced to characters who seem important to the protagonists of the main story, Eva and Michel, but then some distraction happens and we are never brought back to know how their story ends. This is really the main reason I didn’t like this book. I found it difficult to relate to the characters because the narration, context and ideas are constantly changing, leaving old ones forgotten and rather misunderstood.

Despite the story alternations the writing style remained lyrical and beautiful throughout. LaForge’s descriptons are beautiful and telling. A clear portrait is designed of each of the characters in a poetic and masterful way. The writing is so romantic, if I was only reviewing the writing my rating would be an easy and bright five stars. The visionary style of the novel reflected the magic and imagination of the story, resulting in an overall beautiful effect on the reader. 

The Hawkman is a poetic read with interesting features. However, it requires an extrmely dedicated and concentrated reader. The magical realism and historical context infusion is aluring and sure to attract readers of both genres. Unfortunately the inconsistently and undeveloped plot, or plots left me disappointed in the end.
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Thank you Netgalley for this ARC.

I don’t usually read this genre, however I loved this beautidully written book amd will look out for similar themes in the future.
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Rating: 3.0/5.0

I have picked this book from the Read Now section of NetGalley and this is my honest unbiased review. I chose this book because the gorgeous cover attracted me and the synopsis sounded very appealing.  What I loved about this book mainly was the setting and the time period it took place. I have to note here that the story alternates between the past and the present for the two main characters of The Hawkman and Eva Williams. Both the time frames were interesting but I found myself more engaged with their present than their past backstories.

The story as the author mentioned in the acknowledgment is inspired by The Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale The Bearskin. The story focuses more on the characters of the protagonists and what made them be who they are today. This is more of a magic realist tale. It is well written but I felt the pace was a little slow for my taste. I preferred the backstory of Eva than of Sheehan. If you are a fan of magic realism give this a try you might like it.
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I'm a bit iffy on what I would want to rate this book. The writing comes off as a bit stiff but the plot was interesting. It had a few things I liked but quite a few things I didn't care for. It's somewhere between 2.5 - 3 stars for me.
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Where do I even start. I've got so many things to say that I don't even know which one should go first. My thoughts right now are just as confused as this book is, at least in my opinion.

This book is based off the fairy tale The Bearskin by the brothers Grimm, and also reminds in broad terms of the most famous Beauty and the Beast. I strongly recommend reading The Bearskin first, if you're not already familiar with it, to better understand the premises and the characters of this book.

I have to say that, upon finishing this book, I happened to ask myself: “What did I even read?”, for this book left me with no particular feeling, if not a sense of irritation for the time I lost reading it. I found it very distracting and hard to connect to − my mind couldn't focus on the story at times, I had to reread some passages once or twice, and I even thought about DNFing the book  because I saw no point in finishing a book I wasn't enjoying. Still, I pushed myself to finish it.

I had problems with The Hawkman as soon as I started reading it, not only because the writing style made it very difficult for me to get into the story, but also because the author decided to tell us how the book would end right in the very prologue. This is a choice I've encountered a few other times in the past and never enjoyed − sometimes I ask myself what's the point of writing a whole book if you're going to tell the reader how it will end straight away, but I still haven't found a satisfying answer.

The writing didn't amaze me as well. It felt like the author wanted to create the atmosphere proper of fairy tales through her writing, but didn't quite succeed. To me, it just seemed concocted, even pompous at times, and not in a positive way.

I had such a hard time connecting with the characters too, because they just didn't feel real enough to me. Eva Williams, the professor and storyteller, felt very flat and flawless, quite like an angel − kind, charitable, a perfect soul in an ugly world. She had literally no character development throughout the story, she was just too perfect to be real. Michael Sheehan, “The Hawkman”, felt a little bit more real, but I think that 200 pages weren't enough: the trauma he went through during the war was too profound, and even if he goes through some minor development, he never had a real opportunity to overcome his past and sufferings.

The last thing I want to address in this review are the many stories that are told through the whole book. In my opinion, they were very unnecessary and added nothing to the story itself. Maybe the author thought that adding a lot of stories would help with the whole fairy tale atmosphere and such, but they just had no purpose, if not leading to another story, and another one after that.

In the end, I just didn't like one bit of this book, and I'm very sorry for that because the premises made me hope for a good read.
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Well Ms La Forge, you have ripped my heart from my chest, stomped on it, squeezed it and released it into the air like a bird ... in the most delightful way.
 
The Hawkman begins with the untimely and unusual death of a woman on her wedding day in a small village in England, and from there her story unfolds.  

Ms Williams is an American woman, a storyteller who has been employed by the local college, post World War I.  She is somewhat of a misfit, due mostly to her flights of fancy and her 'American-ness'.  English people don't really get her and her liberal views.  In the same village there is a vagrant known as The Birdman, who is reviled and abused by the community.  The locals don't know why he came to their village, he has no family ties.  They want him gone but Miss Williams sees the humanity in him and. one day when she meets him in the forest she shows him extraordinary kindness without seeking any kind of explanation or reward.

The prose of this novel is lyrical and a bit dense at times, but when read aloud, is a real treat for the ears.  The characters are so human and are beautifully drawn.  Their stories are heart-breaking, uplifting, frightening and sublime.  It is a fairytale about war, but it is also a story about the capacity for kindness and love in humanity, how we endure through adversity and, ultimately, what makes us want to keep living ... the wondrous people around us.
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Love it! It's a page turner. I would definitely recommend this to my friends. This is a wonderfully sweet and story. The author perfectly captured the best of life that I will most remember.. So overall, I give this book 4 stars.
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This is a book which I imagine will receive a lot of hype and praise, going along as it does with the current craze for magical realist historical fiction.  I enjoyed it, certainly, and there is some lovely writing here.
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The Hawkman is a book that has tested me, thoroughly, on my ability to give any kind of coherent review. Set in the aftermath of the great war, the story of Michael and Eva twists and turns - sometimes a fairytale, sometimes evocative story of emotional connection and its power over our human lives, sometimes a heartbreaking tale of how easily we can "other" people and turn on ourselves.

The prose itself is absolutely gorgeous - "He was a man of discards sewn together, and Christopher wondered how it was that the village, his father, and even himself had managed to stretch such a small, improbable reliquary of self-doubt into a vast, frightening figure of half-man and half-monster." Undoubtedly, this will be a book that divides its readers - it's not an easy read, but instead demands your full attention and thought - but I suspect it  will find itself only growing in recognition as the years go by.
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Can you judge a book by it's cover? I chose this book because of the cover. Beautifully written story that takes place at the end of the Great War. Between fantasy and reality, it touches on many aspects of the traumas and cruelties of war and society. But, believe there is kindness and compassion despite the prejudices! Thank you Net Galley for the opportunity to review this work. 3.5 Stars
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The Hawkman presents an adaptation of the Grimm Brothers' fairy tale "The Bearskin" set in the aftermath of World War I in a quiet English village. The titular character is Michael Sheehan, an Irish pianist who was a German POW; having settled in England (unable to return to his native land), he spends his time lurking about the outskirts of the village, content to remain mute to the world. Eva Williams is an American schoolteacher who discovers his existence and his overall treatment from the villagers, and strives to help him regain his identity. 

The story blends the eventual friendship that blossoms between these two misfits in this provincial town with exposition about their previous lives - Michael's experiences in the trenches and in the German POW camp, and Eva's childhood upbringing with the storytelling mother. The flashbacks for each are lengthy and poetic - rich in description but slow the momentum of the present-day story.  There were times when the past and present blurred, bringing forth an almost surreal aspect in the narrative structure.

I enjoyed the story - the insight into a veteran's struggle to return to civilian life, and the misunderstanding / ignorance (denial?) of the effects of the First World War on those who survived.
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I wasn't able to finish it. My only problem was with the writing that I found kind of "stiff", which made the pace slow. It’s not that I didn’t like it, but I couldn’t read more than five pages at a time. And now I feel bad, because it doesn’t deserve the 1 star rating that I usually give the books I don’t finish, because something tells me that this is a beautiful story and the two main characters were well written. Maybe the timing was not right… So I am giving it 2 stars and a ticket for re-evaluation in the future.
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A magical and unusual love story set in England after the First World War. Sheehan is a lost soul, shell shocked after his experiences in the trenches. But after being rejected by society he is found by Miss Williams, a young ‘cordial but stiff’ American teacher, who is determined to save The Hawkman from himself and the neglect of the community.
Written rather in the style of a fairy tale, we learn more about the main characters through flashbacks, which often themselves contain fairytale like stories. Not being a great reader of such tales, I sometimes found the detailing too much and did skip over some lengthy passages. The flashbacks didn’t generally work that well for me and felt too heavy in comparison to the main thread.
But I really enjoyed and was fascinated by the love story set in the present and would have given that five stars. I found it quite lovely.
A nicely written story that will make me try more from this author.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for an ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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Second time read. First time review.

I received this ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The first time I rated this book, I gave it a 4. Second time around, I did find myself getting a little bit bored here and there but it still deserves a 4.

The Hawkman: A Fairy Tale of the Great War was a pretty interesting book. The world and the characters were still intriguing that it kept my tapping my little page arrow on my kindle. Yet, again, I definitely did get a little bored. Now I'm not completely blaming the book or the characters, because my work days are filled with boredom but I will say that it was definitely better the first time I read it.

This book is a fairy tale about war. Well, it's more like it's about an Irish musician, Michael, and an American school teacher, Miss Williams. Out of the two, Michael was probably more of my favorite character. He lost a lot, mostly himself, after the war. He goes through want so many veterans, and mostly anyone that has been in a war, he is abandoned and left alone to rot. Well, until the day that Miss Williams finds him and takes him in. She showed so much compassion for someone she didn't know that it definitely gave me so much hope for humanity. 

Yes, I know that this is a book and that these are characters - it will still give me hope that people will end up doing the same thing today. Back to Miss Williams, well she hasn't had a cheery or happy past either. Nope, she has been fighting depression since day one. Now I have no idea what depression feels like but I know that it's a very serious thing to struggle with on a daily basis. It made me feel so sad for this character because of how she acted and treated other people while dealing with her own demons. 

Throughout the story you will feel that emotional tug at your heart strings. You might also fall in love with one or both characters and their amazing story. Michael and Eva had terrible childhood but they cared so much for each other that it made their lives that much better. 

Overall, the ending of this book was even more amazing the second time around. I will definitely be diving into this book for the third time sometime soon (maybe next year??).
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I am a sucker for a nice cover and this book really attracted me because of that. I initially struggled to get into this, but really enjoyed it once I did. I did find I needed to concentrate a fair bit
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