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Hope Carolle
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The Thin Place
Hope Carolle, Author
Synopsis Ellie Hartford is a smart, red-headed, divorced mother of two. On break to visit her old college pal, Jane, who is a fellow professor of Middle English, and a part owner in a castle, they are startled to find Jane’s brother, Ellie’s ex-boyfriend, drunk on their doorstep one night. And the strangest part is he is handcuffed in a pair of very old manacles. Jane calls their old friend Harry to uncuff Harry, so as not to involve the local police. John gets Ellie alone to tell her something important, but passes out before he can. They let him sleep it off. The next day, Jane throws a party to celebrate Ellie’s visit, and after the guests leave, Harry, Ellie and Jane are led by John up to his part of the castle, to view a locked room full of medieval treasures. He announces that he has found a way to the past, and that is why he disappears so often, and that is part of the reason why he’d left Ellie behind back when they were dating. He offers Ellie and Harry a chance to dress up in medieval clothes, and then wants to show them something more. Jane gets called away by one of her children who is crying. Outside the castle, where the labyrinth lies, John steps into it, and then cries out in pain. Ellie and Harry rush out to see what’s wrong, only to get pulled into another world. John had found “A Thin Place” – a spot in the world where you can touch another time. Part Two Ellie arrives in 1344, alongside Harry, very ill and scared to death. John is nowhere to be found. Ellie collapses, and awakes the next day to find out that Harry is now a legend for bringing her inside the castle walls (a great hero). She is set up comfortably by her gracious hosts, the Dagworths. John Stafford is brought to her room to write down their story, as he is the castle’s chronicler. although in great fear that she won’t be able to return to her daughters if something goes wrong, Ellie relents to taking a tour of the castle and seeing what life in medieval England is like, something she had studied her whole life. Enraptured by her surroundings, and even more so by access to Dagworths’ scriptorium and library, Ellie knows where untold literary and historical treasures lie. Stafford informs her that the family in the castle is going to the tournament at Windsor Castle, held by Edward III, to test knights for his newly formed Order, and he would like her and Harry to accompany them. Ellie is determined to go back to her own time that night, and the arrival of the Earl and Countess of Salisbury, the King’s best friend, does not deter her. Everybody she meets at the feast that night wants to take Ellie and her brave knight under their wing and to Windsor. Ellie is kissed passionately by Stafford, and Harry catches them together. She feels conflicted and guilty. When the three sneak out back to the labyrinth, they find the mysterious Anthony deLane waiting for them. He was the one who’d built the labyrinth after coming back from the crusades, and explains that they can not go into the labyrinth until they have been there for five days, and advises them to look in every direction and pay attention, and come back when they are done. Wrecked, Ellie gets comforted by Harry, and not Stafford, who runs off. Ellie is afraid for her and her daughters’ future, and annoyed that Stafford who had only just kissed her, abandoned her in her time of need. And yet Harry had been steadfast and true the whole time, and they lie together, Harry holding her as she sobs. The next morning, they must go to Windsor with the rest of the party. Harry is deemed a likely prospect for King Edward’s order, and the rest of the party hopes that the King will assist Ellie in getting back home as well as gaining other favors for themselves. On the long journey on horseback, Ellie befriends Yvonne, daughter of the Dagworths, and hears the story of her courtship with Hugh, who was the subject of Stafford’s bestseller Tale of the Squire. Ellie saves a woman who accidentally caught on fire during their rest stop, and becomes a heroine. Harry once again proves his steadfastness. They joke that this is one long and strange first date. Once at Windsor, Ellie is treated to a beautiful room and a hot bath. Harry enters from his adjoining room, and with some audacious flirtation from the two of them, they almost consummate their relationship. Later, Ellie encounters the King, who wants to make her his ward, and thus she would become a pawn in his political maneuvers. She and Stafford improvise so that she prophesizes the Order of the Garter’s main story to give her leverage as a prophet, whom they knew were much valued at that time. Ellie rightly predicts that garter scene happens that night at a ball. Ellie and Harry consummate their relationship. Ellie hopes that her new role as a prophet will giver her leverage to get her back to Wodesley with Harry, but after the tournament and a deadly accident (from which once again Ellie saves a life), they are separated and Ellie has to escape back to Wodesley with the newly out-of-favor Dagworth party. They return quickly to Wodesley, fearful that the King’s men are behind them and in search of Ellie. Running into the castle she finds Anthony deLane quickly and tells them what she learned during her stay (she no longer sees walls, but can see all the opportunities and blessings around her). Stafford now wants to join her, and professes his feelings for Ellie, although he knows she is in love with Harry. They learn a few secrets of the labyrinth and are able to go back in time. Stafford has a bag full of priceless medieval texts that will set he and Ellie up for life. Ellie reunites with Jane and her children. But she beats herself up over her decision to leave Harry back in time. Ellie watches the labyrinth for Harry’s return. Harry does return, thanks to the help of deLane and others. He and Ellie have a joyous reunion and make plans to celebrate their adventure by going on a proper second date.

Semi Finalist

Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 8.75 out of 10

Assessment:

Plot: Carolle’s novel boasts a well-constructed, engaging plot that gallops along at an exciting pace.

Prose: Carolle’s prose is witty, humorous, and interesting. The author’s knack for vivid and meticulous descriptions—especially when it comes to feasts, landscapes, and textiles—is a wonderful part of this novel.

Originality: The Thin Place draws on classical magical tales that include time or world travel—including the works of L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, and C.S. Lewis—but Carolle puts her own modern spin on things, creating a memorable work.

Character Development:  Carolle’s characters are very well developed, vivid, and relatable. Readers will easily engage with them and their stories. 

Blurb: Hope Carolle’s The Thin Place is a marvelous, romantic fantasy, a perfect read for both fans of medieval literature and a good old-fashioned love triangle. 

Date Submitted: June 03, 2018

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