Title: The Latecomers
Author: Rich Marcello
Genre: Literary Fiction / Magical Realism
Bonded by a series of tragic events, husband and wife Maggie and Charlie, along with their friends Rebecca, Joe, and Ebba, undeniably know that they all have been brought together for a reason. In The Latecomers, they find out why.
Maggie and Charlie have been happily married for two decades. Their sex life is great, they intellectually stimulate each other, and they’re deeply in love. But when Charlie flips the switch on their once intense romance, both he and Maggie are left heartbroken and confused.
When apart, the couple is drawn to connect with other people in their lives, including Rebecca, Joe, and Ebba. The group is brought together by unforeseen circumstances, and their dynamic is forever changed after they share an enlightening experience in a mystical cave. From this point, they seek clarity on their complex, intertwined destinies.
The main characters are of an older age demographic: they are in the second half and/or last third of their lives. This was one of the best parts of the book, because the characters are mature with a hunger for more from life. They are sure to resonate with both an older and younger readership.
The characters are deep and complex, and their perspectives on life reflect this. Marcello does a great job creating intimacy between the characters as well. Readers will feel connected to the characters right away and grow attached to them as the story develops.
There are many scenes in the book that feature spiritual locations, objects, and language, and this is often where magical realism is incorporated. The surreal elements create beautiful, evocative imagery. Although the writing is very descriptive and sensory, at times it can get “flowery.”
There are an abundance of unfamiliar spiritual terms and symbols which can be a bit laborious to follow along with and remember as the story becomes more complex. These terms paired with the spiritual practices the characters partake in contribute to what makes the language flowery.
The book is often heavy and emotional, as the narrative follows the characters as they try to find understanding and purpose in a life that hasn’t always treated them fairly. There is no shortage of excitement, though, as the book has cliffhangers and shocking moments that create action and movement in the narrative.
While the first half of the book focuses on the characters’ relationships and the creation of their moai, (a harmonious unit rooted in love, growth, and connection), the second half of the book brings us to a slightly different storyline. A surprising antagonist figure and a jump in time muddies the narrative and plotline. The story’s progression feels a bit disjointed from this point to the end of the book. Some of the main characters lose their voices as Maggie’s takes center stage, and the plot takes over.
In The Latecomers, readers ride the waves of the characters’ emotional journey to self-healing and self-discovery. This deep, thought-provoking novel navigates the complexities of all aspects of life––though our bodies grow older, our spirit lives on, and this novel explores the road to acceptance of that fact. Marcello has created an ethereal work of magical realism that will inspire readers with clarity, wonder, and inspiration.
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