I still don’t know how to form the proper words to express my wonderment at this book but I’ll try. Before Ever After is absolutely so unexpected, I didn’t know that when I bought this, a gem of a novel lies beneath the simple, unassuming cover. Mostly I was just curious about the book because it was written by a fellow Filipino.
Ms. Samantha Sotto claims she hadn’t written anything before this but while reading the book, you would think that she has been writing since she was in diapers. Really. And I’m not just saying this because of our shared nationality. I had actually read a few other novels in English written by fellow Filipinos and had been honest about being not so very impressed. Sorry.
This book mixes contemporary, historical fantasy, romance, adventure, and magical realism in a beautiful combination with that smooth, gripping, witty, heart-wrenching, and often times really funny writing that made me devour the pages of the novel. It’s utterly amazing how the author deftly wrote so many short stories, through the histories Shelley was told by Max during their European trip five years ago, creating so many characters throughout the centuries telling about their tragedies and the meaning of their lives.
There’s Julian, Aidan, the Basilisk, and so many other characters and how significant their lives can be no matter how flitting. Here’s the catch. There’s a deeper importance to their lives than Max is letting on and only now five years later, when Max is believed to be dead for three years and a man named Paolo, Max’s doppleganger claiming to be the latter’s grandson is Shelley now realizing that those stories weren’t just myths. Those stories make for a thrilling treasure hunt to knowing who Max really is but at the same time each story is already a treasure in itself. Each story speaks an important message about life, death, faith, love, poverty, justice, and so on.
I really must find that recipe on baked eggs and cheese. ^^