Review: The Lives of Things by Stephanie Wilson Medlock

The world is filled with art of all types: statues, paintings, clocks, jewelry, dolls, and more. Artists from the beginning of time have attempted to make this world more beautiful and to leave their mark. Not all artists achieve international fame, but many want to. Or maybe they weren’t appreciated in their day, but now they are.

Imagine if you could communicate with the creator of art and objects that you see every day. Rebecca Katz doesn’t have to imagine that at all. Rebecca is a successful art authenticator for Atherton’s Auction House. However, her colleagues don’t know why she’s so successful. Rebecca has a secret that she’s kept from everyone since she was a child. The souls of the artist are embedded into the objects they made by hand and Rebecca can speak with them. It’s a blessing and a curse. Obviously it helps Rebecca in her job because the artists can assist her with authenticating objects. But it hinders her personal life since all objects, when they find out about her special powers, want something from Rebecca. They want her to listen to their stories.

When Rebecca encounters a 2nd century Afghan dagger she learns that not all artists are truthful. He lies to Rebecca causing humiliation for her and for the auction house. Rebecca’s boss sends her to Miami with the dagger and trouble follows her. Along the way she has to learn to trust objects and rely on them for help. To complicate her life even more, she meets two men who she likes. How can she let them into her life and keep her secret safe? If she tells, will they think she’s a lunatic?

The Live of Things has a lot going for it. First the idea is refreshing. It isn’t the first to explore the connection between humans and the things they own. However, it’s an interesting take on that idea. Having a person who can talk to the artists who are trapped inside their works offers a fascinating exploration of art and consumerism.

Stephanie Wilson Medlock is obviously well versed in art history and has done a ton of research to make her story credible. All of the tidbits that she shares are intriguing. She pays attention to the tiniest of details, adding to the believability of Rebecca’s talent.

Rebecca is an interesting character to get to know. In the beginning she is rather reserved. As you learn more about her past, you start to understand why. Her special power has cut her off from normal everyday life. Rebecca doesn’t have a lot of friends and a boyfriend from her past betrayed her, making her distrustful of letting people get close to her. As the author develops her character, readers will find themselves cheering for Rebecca.

One thing that is puzzling about The Lives of Things is the actual plot. The first half of the novel is about the dagger and the implications of the artist lying to Rebecca. Then all of a sudden the story revolves around Rebecca and two men who are interested in her and who she likes. Some readers may wonder why the dagger thread is dropped and her love life takes over. At times it felt like the book is two separate novels. Twists and turns are fantastic and essential to keep readers engaged in a story. However, it’s risky to drop one plot thread almost completely for many pages and pick up a new one in the middle. Would it have been better to make this novel a series? Part one could be about the dagger and introduce Rebecca and her secret. Part two could be about Rebecca dealing with love and accepting her gift. Actually, I would love to see a part three. The author is talented and Rebecca is an intriguing character, so it’s quite possible that her adventures don’t have to end.

Overall, this novel is entertaining, enlightening, and humorous. Rebecca isn’t your typical heroine, but her individuality will win over many readers. And the author’s ability to weave a credible yarn will convince many that it’s possible to give life to the objects in our world.

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