The Hawkman

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

Honestly, I wasn't a fan of the writing or the story of this novel. I really thought it would be a book I would enjoy, but I found myself picking it up for a few chapters then losing interest very quickly. I haven't finished it, and I honestly don't have the energy or desire to try at this point. It just wasn't the book for me.
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This book is all about the writing, the writing, the writing – 

“This is a story about a man who thought he was a bird and the woman who helped him find his humanity again.” Set in a small English town which housed a large estate which in turn “hosted a woman’s college which produced…young ladies of use.” The story is slow paced and there are few twists and turns. In many places the narrative is told through a stream of consciousness with punctuation. 

Read this book for the story if you choose – But you must read this book for the superb writing.

Thank You NetGalley and Amberjack Publishing for an ARC
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The Hawkman is a brutal, elegant, cautionary fairy tale.  Set in the period between the wars, the story rides a balancing line between the historic and the surreal.  LaForge blends the horrors of the trenches and the ugliness of Britain’s class system with the soaring beauty of nature, birds, and magic.
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DNF at 18%
I didn't realize that this was literary fiction, which is something I never gravitate or want to read. While I appreciate the idea behind this book and the setting, I was still really bored. The writing felt dry of emotion, good pacing and actual interest in the subject. I also thought the prologue was very jarring with how things were explained and I don't think prologues like this never work for novels, since it gives you such a clear view of the ending. If all you read is literary fiction or more adult type books like this, you'll probably like this more than me. But this was dry, boring, full of filler description and not engaging at all.
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The Hawkman has all the prerequisites of a fairy tale - the obvious parable, the mix of fantasy and reality that can twist your vision, making the bizarre perfectly acceptable, the consistent personal mistreatment to a depth that would make the break into fairytale completely understood.  It is also an excellent case against the atrocities of war, and the mental break entailed when personal acceptance of the same is no longer tenable.  Aligning these horrors in this historical novel gives us a glimpse into the world our veterans encounter daily.  This is a novel that approaches that pain in a more understandable way for the layperson, in a more empathetic way, than anything else I have read.  Thank you Ms. LaForge for sharing this tale with us.  This is a story I can happily recommend for friends and family.  

I received a free electronic copy of this period novel from Netgalley, Jane Rosenberg LaForge, and Amberjack Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.
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I received this from Netgalley and Publisher/author for free in exchange for an honest review. 

This cover of this book is what pulled me in. Then I read the synopsis and thought I would give it a shot. 

This book is focused around the time of the great war. I found it to be very well written and the world was great. We are united with 2 people that world apart that found each other. It was very uplifting. The author did a great job bringing you into the story. 

Now, I will say, there were times I would start this and put it down and it would be days before I would pick up again, not because I didn't enjoy the book but because of life around me happening. I would have to read some to find myself in the book again. 

Over all I gave this book a 3.75**
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The first thing I did was read the previous reviews. And I was glad since I was not the only person to feel a bit disconnected with this book.
While the book is good as a one time read, personally it did not call out to me. Usually, readers associate with one or more characters or discover a sense of camaraderie, sympathy or something. I found none of that with this book. I was interested in The Hawkman first for its cover, and then it's blurb. Sadly the book was not evocative enough. 
I'd give it two and a half stars, but round it off to three for the beautiful cover.
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The prose was dark and depressive, and not even in the good way. It came off sounding dreary, boring and grey, which made the book really hard to get into. I rarely never finish a book, as I always like to see things through till the end after I have invested my time reading several pages, but I really struggled with this one. The author lacks a flair for descriptive writing, and it was really difficult to conjure the images and scene in my head. The story was confusing to say the least, it jumps around at random, switching from the war to miscellaneous fairytales and back again. I was actually really excited to pick up this book after reading through all the raving reviews, but it fell short.
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It wasn’t a book that i would pick up again. I struggled to get through the storyline. I didn’t have a connection with the characters.
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I was a bit disappointed in this book. That glorious cover and an intriguing description of the story made me read it but sadly it did not live up to my expectations.

A bit like that pretty cover being spoiled by the rather macho sounding title, the book itself seemed confused about what it was supposed to be. Sometimes it told the story of the two main characters living just after World War One in England. Then it wandered off into fairy stories told by one of the characters, after which we might return to England or go back to experience our characters' childhood or wartime experiences. Added to all this were the touches of magical realism which culminated in a very strange ending.

This sounds as though I did not like it. In fact it was a fairly enjoyable read which just tried a bit too hard. Three stars.
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Full review will be added to NetGalley/Goodreads closer to publication date; review will be added to Amazon once the book is published!
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I really struggled with this book.  The first half was really engaging and full of promise, and I loved the way the author described the scenes and characters.  It was a very poetic way to tell the story, and I enjoyed first. Then it turned into rambling.  It was too wordy.  Majority of the book is almost overdone in its description and doesn't have enough dialogue.  I was getting lost in the descriptions, and not in a good way, to the point where I was confused as to where the story was going.  I think this would have been better if it were shorter or simply had less random stories.  At certain points, we would be in present day, and then without any warning, the story would dive back in time or go into a fairy tale that Eva would tell to Michael or others.  It just lacked a sense of direction and structure.  Each scene was beautiful, but together it came across as messy.
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I heard nothing but great things about this book, so I felt quite disappointing when it wasn't this perfect book that I was expecting. I think when it started, it was a solid 5 star read, but towards the end it lost that touch. The ending wasn't super cohesive, and it felt a little rushed and confusing.

It focuses quite a lot on PTSD following the Great War, and deals with compassion and forgiveness and acceptance. I liked the message that it was probably trying to portray, and this aspect was done really well. I think if the ending had been a bit more captivating it would've received a higher rating. I loved the magical realism in it, and I did love the relationship between Michael and Miss Williams, so I'll be giving it 3 stars.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy of the eBook in exchange for an honest review.
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The Hawkman is a retelling of a mix of Beauty and the Beast meets Grimm’s Fairy Tales (look up certain title). It’s a fascinating, bewitching tale of a man that’s a beggar on the streets; abused by children and adults alike because of how ugly he is perceived to be, as well as how dangerous. He doesn’t talk, only screams at people-much like a hawk-which is where the name originates from.

It is described as a “fairy tale of the great war”, and it certainly doesn’t flinch from telling the dark stories of how men survived while fighting enemies, and deserting, and struggling just to get by. It’s a harsh look at the war, and at how some soldiers were treated during these times of strife. It wasn’t my favorite part of the book, but it was still lyrical in its own, unique way.

My favorite part of the book is the bit with the swan king and his lake. It was beautiful, yet tremendously sad at the end of it as well, well written, and yet strange. It definitely spoke volumes to me, and this will be one of my favorite books of the year, because of its originality. I don’t recall it being a part of the Brothers Grimm or not (clearly, I need to re-read those stories), but I still loved it regardless.

Miss Williams was easily my favorite character in the whole of the story, though the Hawkman was curiously interesting, she was kind and considerate, and acted like a real human being in taking him in when everyone else just wanted to treat him as some kind of terrible disease that needed to be gotten rid of. He was a strange individual, but as Miss Williams pointed out, he was still human and therefore deserved care and respect as much as anyone else.

There are several more things to talk and think about in regards to this book. While only sixteen chapters, it was a huge story and a well-told one at that. I will likely do a re-read of it in the future, when I’ve the time to do so, because I read this far too quickly, despite trying not too. I just had to know what would happen to poor Miss Williams and her Hawkman.

In this Miss Peregrin’s Home for Peculiar Children meets All the Light We Cannot See, I’m sure fans will adore the beautifully written prose and stories that are told within this gorgeous edition.

Five out of five stars for a splendid job well done!
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Book Description
A great war, a great love, and the mythology that unites them; The Hawkman: A Fairy Tale of the Great War is a lyrical adaptation of a beloved classic.

Set against the shattering events of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, at the tale’s heart are an American schoolteacher—dynamic and imaginative—and an Irish musician, homeless and hated—who have survived bloodshed, poverty, and sickness to be thrown together in an English village. Together they quietly hide from the world in a small cottage.  

My Thoughts
The Hawkman is just one more reason that I am glad to have 'discovered' Buzz Books. This was featured in the Spring/Summer 2018 edition and if the excerpt hadn't captivated me, it is likely a book I would not have explored( as I seem to be drawn mostly to mysteries and thrillers lately).That would have been my loss since I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Michael Sheehan survived WW1 but is a much different man than the one who went to war. He suffers physically from the brutality he endured as a prisoner and emotionally from PTSD. He is homeless, a vagabond who offends the residents of Bridgetonne because he is dirty, disheveled, doesn't speak and frankly just makes the villagers uncomfortable. No one seems to care what could have caused this man, they call the Hawkman to become the person he is today. All they see is someone who doesn't belong in their village. Everyone except Eva Williams, a spinster, and schoolteacher who is also an outsider.
Eva sees something in the Hawkman, something that makes her offer kindness and acceptance rather than fear and disdain. Eva invites Michael into her home and her life in an attempt to aid what to her is clearly a wounded man, not a monster. It is a beautifully written story highlighting prejudice, pre-conceived notions and the cruelty that can define any society. There were so many layers in this story, that even though I could have easily raced through it, I found myself slowing down and putting it aside after a chapter or two so I could reflect on the author's words. I won't spoil the story by sharing more details on Eva and Michael's story, you will want to read The Hawkman to find out for yourself. 
Thank you Jane Rosenberg LaForge, Amberjack Publishing and NetGalley(and BuzzBooks for the excerpt) for the complimentary digital copy. I won't forget this story anytime soon and I look forward to what the author does next.
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A magical realist tale set during the Great War and sporting a cover this beautiful could not fail to appeal to me! What I initially loved about this, however, failed to continue to enthral me. This story was, perhaps, too quiet in its telling, for me. As evocative as the writing was and as sublime as the story-line continued to be, there was an almost treacle-like quality to the pacing that often had me wishing to pull myself free and hurry ahead rather than sit still and appreciate the current sweetness that surrounded me.
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I raced through this book as I was completely hooked by the story and wanted to see how it resolved... although there were some very large hints near the start so I could see what was coming, what I wanted was to see how we got there. This book is beautifully written and therefore enjoyable to read. It tells the story of Michael "the Hawkman" who is suffering from PTSD following his experiences in the trenches of the First World War and prisoner of war camps, and Eva, an American teacher in rural England, and the relationship between them. It's a fairy story and a love story and quite lovely. The only thing missing is, I think, a bit more of the actual Hawkman. There's a lot of backstory as to how Michael became as he was, and then passages where he is with Eva, but very little of him actually as the Hawkman, and I think that could be expanded upon. But that's a very minor observation on an otherwise wonderful book.

I received a copy via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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I wasn't a particularly big fan of this book, but it's not so much because it was a bad book per say and more because it just wasn't my thing. There's definitely a specific kind of reader who would love this book; that reader is just not me.

The Hawkman follows the lives of a Mr. Sheehan (the title character) and Miss Williams, who live in England shortly after World War 1. Mr. Sheehan is a former soldier and prisoner of war; his time in the war left him essentially traumatized and homeless. He wanders the streets of this tiny English village, homeless, and he terrifies most of the residents just because of his size and refusal to speak, though this "Hawkman" is really more of a gentle giant than anything else. Miss Williams one day invites him into her home and begins to care for him, much to the chagrin of Lord Thorton, one of the main authorities in the village. The book follows Miss Williams and Mr. Sheehan as their relationship evolves and also flashes back to both of their pasts and how they ended up where they are.

I was initially pulled in by the tag line of this book, "A Fairy Tale of the Great War," because I'm an absolute sucker for any kind of fairy tale. However, The Hawkman is less of a fairy tale and more of a blend of magical realism and folklore, all written in a style that reminded me of writers like James Joyce and Herman Melville. 

Now, Joyce and Melville are arguably some of the greatest writers of all time, and magical realism/folklore can make for some really beautiful, metaphoric books with amazing prose, deep meanings, and profound reflections on the human condition. And this book does sort of get at those things (maybe not completely on par with Melville or Joyce and it's maybe not the most profound book ever, but still up there). I just don't happen to be into that kind of thing. I thought Melville and Joyce were some of the most boring, and rambly authors I had to read in school, so the writing style of The Hawkman also felt dry and like it rambled on far too much, which made me bored for most of the story. I can get behind well-written magical realism, but the effects of that here were lost on me with the writing style and how boring I found the overall plot.

Again, though, I think this was really just a case of The Hawkman being a bad match-up with my personal reading preferences. There wasn't anything in here where I was like "This is a horrible book, who would read this??!!" like there sometimes is with books I rate two stars. I just found myself bored throughout it and didn't enjoy the act of reading it very much. But hey, if you love magical realism, folklore, and that James Joyce kind of writing style, and you're thinking this totally sounds up your alley, it probably is, and you shouldn't let me talk you out of reading it. But if like me, you couldn't stand to read Portrait of an Artist As a Young Man in high school/college, I'd probably pass.

Thanks to Netgalley and Amberjack Publishing for a chance to read an early copy.
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The Hawkman: A Fairy Tale of the Great War 

Jane Rosenberg LaForge
AmberJack Pub.
ISBN: 978-1944995676 (paperback)
Released: June 5, 2018

The Hawkman: A Fairy Tale of the Great War by Jane Rosenberg LaForge is a re-telling of several Grimm’s fairy tales against the backdrop of World War I.  As a fan of World War I literature, this captures the desperation of trench warfare, the aftermath of war, and what it means to live with those nightmares. But it is this reality, this darkness, this desperation that pushes up against how and why people tell stories. This is not merely a war novel, but the war is what triggers much of the action and ideas around this novel. Miss Eva Williams is an American school teacher that comes to a small English school to teach and hide from the world. Among the small and bucolic setting, everyone has been touched by the Great War. And among the edges is a man so damaged and lost that the villagers are afraid of who he is and what he may do. Miss Williams doesn’t commiserate with the villagers and the leaders, she takes him into her life. These two lost souls begin to rebuild a life together.

This novel weaves stories. It is the function of the book, the story, the plot… everything. It is worth mentioning that LaForge brings about a compelling and often beautiful style of storytelling to the page. Her stylistic voice here is what makes this novel so compelling and profound. The style reaches beyond the well-crafted characters, the woven stories, and the stunning pace of this novel. It makes sense that a poet is a better weaver for so many intangible parts and pieces. In Kate Berhnheimer’s introduction to Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales, she discusses how “fairy tales offer both wildly familiar and familiar wild terrain.” But more importantly, she considers the significance of how these fairy tales reflect back something of ourselves. “It is to look at the act of looking at ourselves inside stories, to regard the tradition and the stereotype of female reflection on self. In this, there is a power for all sorts of readers.” In many ways, LaForge is doing this within the nested stories and concepts of The Hawkman. She is restoring story, frame, morals, and piecing together the shattered ideas that are missing. That is where the innovative, creative, and visionary style does so much of the work. Miss Williams becomes the one who creates change, shifts perceptions of the world, and grounds all the fragments that seem to swirl around this novel. She isn’t the Scheherazade (the teller of the stories), but she is the force that makes all these stories possible. She is the curator of all things possible and impossible in this world.

A possible function of writing a novel is to explain how we might save ourselves with a story. In The Hawkman: A Fairy Tale of the Great War by Jane Rosenberg LaForge, it is clear that these forces of reality, tales, and visionary things are not just important for the art of fiction, but crafted with haunting and beautiful effect. But it takes more than a fabulist, it takes more than a novelist. It takes a poet. The Hawkman is a stunning vision of the blurred lines between the darkest realities and the most beautiful stories, all spinning in a whirlwind of narrative, hope, and loss.

A brief retelling of this book doesn’t shed light on the beauty and the scope of this novel. It is something that you have to accumulate as a reader. The nested stories, the characters, the function of the novel itself, all serve to restore the belief that we are narrative, we need a beginning, a middle, and an end. LaForge does this through poetry, stories, and her lyrical style. Miss Williams in the novel says, “Stories should not have to be cruel.” They can be sad, they can be devastating, and they can be beautiful, but they don’t “have to be cruel.” This novel brings narrative together with a lyrical style to rebuild the lives of people who are separately and desperately fragmented. The result is this beautiful novel that is built on the tradition of fairy tales but refined in poetry and prose in a way that is vivid, inspiring, and human. Excellent, poetic, and literary in story, style, and vision. 

Cited in Review
Bernheimer, Kate, ed. Mirror, mirror on the wall: Women writers explore their favorite fairy tales. Anchor, 1998.
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