The Hawkman

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

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)
280p
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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The subtitle of this book is A fairytale of the Great War - and it is just that - reminiscent of a fairy tale. The prose in which it is written strikes a chord that has only been equaled by that of the brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. You are transported to a time when nothing was known of PTSD and the after effects of war and when “shell-shock” was treated in very different ways. 
The friendship that arises between Miss Williams and the Hawkman is touching and gentle. 
Reminiscent at time of Swan Lake and other famous fairytales, the descriptions are rich and luxurious. The book is a fast read because you want to find out the culmination of the story and what becomes of both Miss Williams and the Hawkman, but you also don’t want this story to end.
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What a wonderful book! I was hooked since the first page and cannot put it down.
The style of writing was really good and the characters really interesting.
It's strongly recommended!
Many thanks to Amberjack Publishing and Netgalley
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This was a beautifully written story about interesting characters, but it wasn’t my favorite kind of book.  The long flashbacks got tedious at times, and I wanted to know more about the current story.  But this book is well-written and a good example of a slow, thought out story. 

I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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There is really no way to describe The Hawkman other than bittersweet. It is such a sad but sweet story. The two main characters, Miss Eva Williams and Mr. Michael Sheehan/The Hawkman could not be more interesting and I really connected with them and their relationship. This story is just so beautifully written I almost don't have the words to describe it. While it is described as a fairy tale, it doesn't feel like the fairy tales I grew up with. Maybe it's because there's no princesses or witches in it that I normally associate with that label. But the label doesn't really matter. The Hawkman is a brilliant story with a wonderful message. But before I get rambly, let's get to the review!

Synopsis: (from Goodreads);
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. 

Too soon, reality shatters their serenity, and they must face the parochial community. Unbeknownst to all, a legend is in the making—one that will speak of courage and resilience amidst the forces that brought the couple together even as outside forces threaten to tear them apart.

Miss Eva Williams is an American school teacher living in England. She is there to teach in the village of Bridgetonne at the local women's university. She is outspoken but mostly likes to keep to herself in her little cottage. She especially keeps to herself once she takes the local outcast (The Hawkman) into her home one rainy afternoon. She doesn't know what to make of him at the beginning but she knows that he looks like he could use a friend or at least someone to help him out. As she helps him, he starts to turn from the bird-like man that he appeared to be when she first met him into something more human-looking. He doesn't speak for most of the book but they communicate with each other in their own ways. She probably understands him more than anyone else in the world.

The Hawkman or Mr. Michael Sheehan as we come to think of him as we get to know him better starts off as Brigetonne's outcast. People throw things at him and are generally scared to go near him. But one rainy day, he meets Miss Williams and she takes him in. He helps her in the garden and proves that the people of the village are much more a harm to him than he is to them. The book does a great job of showing Mr. Sheehan's past in flashbacks. Sprinkled in between the chapters in the present are chapters showing us his past as a piano player, then a World War I soldier, and ultimately, a prisoner of war. We come to understand why he is the way he is. He truly is an astonishingly well-thought-out and well-written character. And while some of the prisoner of war chapters were hard to read at times, Mr. Sheehan's humanity is what kept me turning the page to find out more. Near the end of the book, or perhaps even before that, Mr. Sheehan falls in love with Miss Williams and while there relationship is not what most people might call "normal", it heals them and allows them to become what they always wanted to be.

One other character I thought was expertly developed was Christopher Thorton. He is the son of the owner of the college that Miss Williams works for and he starts off the story as just another privileged rich boy who's had things handed to him on a silver platter. But as he interacts more with Miss Williams and Mr. Sheehan, he grows so splendidly. He becomes another person who really tries to understand Mr. Sheehan and makes sure he gets everything he needs. While he loves Miss Williams throughout most of the book, he doesn't let that stand in the way when Miss Williams and Mr. Sheehan's relationship develops and they need his help. At first, I thought he might be the villain of this book, but I ended up being happily surprised by him

The Hawkman is a stunning story about how people can heal each other even when it doesn't look like there is any hope left. I cried multiple times while reading, especially at the end (no one should be surprised. I always cry reading lol). I am giving The Hawkman 4 out of 5 stars. Please give this book a read when it comes out. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

The Hawkman by Jane Rosenberg Laforge comes out June 5, 2018.

Thank you, NetGalley and Amberjack Publishing for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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The Hawkman by Jane Rosenberg LaForge is an original and powerfully written reworking of the Grimm's fairy tale Bearskin. The novel departs from the fairy tale in a lot of ways, and not having any prior knowledge of the earlier fable doesn't detract in any way from this novel. 

The author is a poet and it shines through in the exquisite use of language.  Most of the prose in the book is transcendent and very 'painterly'.  It's a fantasy, but grounded in reality.  I wouldn't call it magical realism, exactly (with the exception of one passage, which seemed written to indicate that it was metaphorical, not literal).

The book is beautifully written and poignant.  I haven't often been touched as deeply or felt as attached as I did to the characters in The Hawkman.  It's a book about the casualties (both literal and figurative) of the first world war, so much of the book was brutal and sad.  I found the redemptive themes of love and kindness and humanity had even more impact when presented in contrast.  It's been several weeks since I finished reading the book and I still find myself thinking about it often.

It's a really beautiful, lush, gorgeously written novel. 

Due out 5th June, 2018 from Amberjack publishing.  280 pages in paperback and ebook formats.

Five stars
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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

The Hawkman was beautifully written, immediately captivating me with its lyrical prose. Jane Rosenberg LaForge creates a fairytale within a fairytale; the stories etched within the narrative kept pulling me deeper and deeper into the story. 
When the lives of the town's two misfits, the mute vagabond, Mr. Sheehan and the American spinster Miss Williams, come together both undergo transformations that have consequences neither could have foreseen. There is a nod the the classic tale of "Beauty and the Beast" but focuses on the cost of helping a beast return from a nature that tragedy had forced him to assume. 
I highly enjoyed the story; however, I felt the transitions between the past and present were confusing at times. It made the story feel a bit discordant. This is a book that definitely requires more than one read through. There is a depth to this book that not many stories possess. 

Overall, I would recommend this book! Bravo to Jane Rosenberg LaForge for this interesting and unique tale.
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it is not my kind of books to read, however I did enjoy it and it was beautiful written. The story line was also interesting.
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I’d like to thank Netgalley for this copy of The Hawkman in exchange for a fair review. 

It’s a bold attempt to link fairytale with historical fiction. 

The language is gorgeous and the setting unique ( as The Great War is often over looked). The author braids fairytale with the grit of war. 

While that braid doesn’t always seem to fit, I couldn’t fault the author for her creativity. The only sticking point for me was the constant switch between past and present tense.
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A beautiful historical fiction book with a tad of fantasy/folklore set post WW1. I enjoyed it quite a bit - the growing relationship between the protagonists, the slight sense of a fairytale and overall well-written prose.

I received a copy via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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This book I struggled through.  I don't think I care for the popular fairy tale setting of novels dealing with real issues.  The imagery is well done and is the book's strong point.
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I want to start this review by saying a big thank you to NetGalley for giving me an early copy of this book, this is the first book I have read as an ARC and I was really excited about it. I also think, upon reflection that I read this book way too fast and I really wonder how my interpretation of this book might have changed if I had taken my time a bit more with this novel. 

This novel is, as its tagline says, a fairy tale. It mixes folklore with historical fiction in a really seamless blend that really builds a beautiful scene, the way the context and story unfold in this novel really is lovely. The language used is undeniably pretty and this book  is one that really has a genuine sense of aesthetic. 

I want to start with the positives. The characters in this book are all really interesting and well developed. Miss Williams and Mr Sheehan are simple people but they are deeply complex and fascinating to read about. 

There is a huge subplot about PTSD and mental illness in this story as Mr Sheehan is a World War I soldier recovering from shell shock after the war and his term in a German prisoner of war camp. As a reader I felt a huge amount of sympathy for his situation, for how overturned his life became after the war, but of course, in the early years after WWI  not all the characters were quite so sympathetic. I loved that the characters who didn't understand Mr Sheehan's situation weren't painted to be evil people necessarily, and the novel really didn't have a villain in the way you expect from fairy tales. Instead people who didn't understand were portrayed simply as that, people who didn't understand. I really liked that. 

I also think in having characters who couldn't relate to and understand PTSD, I felt even more sympathetic to Mr Sheehan, obviously I sympathised with his post war mental health struggle but the lack of care on the other end added an extra layer to his trauma and I can only imagine how many other returned soldiers at the time would have faced the same thing. 

Miss Williams was at first glance, less interesting. She is a kind woman who wants to help where she sees suffering and offers sanctuary to Mr Sheehan. Only as the story progresses do we really come to understand the depth of her character as well and see where the roots of her kindness come from. She really is a unique character and was very well written as well. 

So this book really does have a lot going for it. 

Unfortunately, I also had some things I didn't like. 

The main problem I had with this book was that it was quite difficult to follow. And I struggle with that criticism because I think as much as it frustrated me, it was done deliberately. The author shifts character perspectives and launches into flashbacks without warning and you have to really concentrate to follow the plot. It often takes a lot of going back and reorienting yourself in order to understand whats going on. 

As much as I found this book beautiful, I also found it in parts to be a little bit dull. This is a book very much written for aesthetic. Its meant to be pretty but it isn't plot driven in the way I am used to. The plot is there but its woven lazily through the novel. 

This is why I gave it three stars. 

I think it did exactly what it set out to do very well, I just didn't find it to be to my tastes necessarily. Which is what makes the arts so difficult, something can be objectively very good but not be a certain person's cup of tea. That was the Hawkman to me, an objectively lovely story that just didn't quite do it for me. 

Perhaps if I had read it a bit more slowly I would have had a different view of it. I don't know...
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Gorgeous writing but felt as if two coming of age stories that didn’t meld or did but like Little Mermaid becoming a bubble. There is an audience for this, but not a staff pick.
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