Book Review: The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart

The Visionist by Rachel UrquhartThe Visionist: What it is about

The publisher says: “‘It was years before a Visionist came to the City of Hope. How could I have fathomed that her presence in our small, remote sanctuary – as unforeseen to her as to anyone – would change everything?’

Massachusetts, 1842. Fifteen-year-old Polly Kimball sets fire to her family farm, killing her abusive father. With his fiery ghost at her heels, Polly and her young brother seek refuge in a local Shaker community – the City of Hope.

Polly has much to hide from this mysterious society of believers, with the local fire inspector on her trail and the ever-present daemons from her past. But when they hail her a ‘Visionist’, the first their community has known, she is subject to overwhelming scrutiny. Despite being fiercely protected by a young Shaker sister named Charity, a girl who has never known the outside world yet will stake her very soul on Polly’s purity, Polly finds herself in danger from forces both sides of the City’s walls. And in a world where faith and fear coexist, safety has a price…

The Visionist: What I thought

In this story, a mother and her daughter and son flee their home. The mother brings her children to The City of Hope, a local Shaker community. The community members see her daughter as a “Visionist”, someone in direct contact with higher beings.

Meanwhile, an investigator is looking into the fire that burned down their house. Was it an accident? In the past, his official reports have always just stated what a local land owner, his childhood friend, wanted it to state. But Simon Pryor is ready to turn his back on that man.

Other intrigues involve the battle for the piece of land that the house was on: who can legally claim it, and how far will they go to do so?

It was a strange book in the sense that I didn’t enjoy all of it. The first chapter I didn’t understand at all. I had no idea what that was about. I liked the investigations of Simon Pryor but not so much the events in the Shaker community. At some point, the book was extremely boring; the story seemed to have come to a standstill. Luckily, Simon then continues his investigations and it becomes interesting again.

A bit of a hit and miss book, which had very engaging parts and very slow parts.

Rating: 3,5 out of 5 stars (OK to good)

Number of pages: 346

First published: 2014

I got this: from the publishers (Simon & Schuster UK) for review

Genre: historical fiction

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

8 Responses to Book Review: The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart

  1. Hit and miss is the perfect way to describe historical fiction xD

  2. Most reviews of this have been overwhelmingly positive, so i was glad to hear something a little more nuanced from you. I still want to read the book, i’m just not so sure it is going to blow my mind like i thought it would.

  3. bibliosue says:

    When I first saw the title of your post I thought it said The Violinist — maybe that would have been a better book 😉

  4. Oh, bummer! I’ve been wanting to read this book, but I’ve have way too many ‘eh, okay’ books lately and need a spectacular one. I guess The Visionist isn’t it!

  5. BookerTalk says:

    Doesn’t sound great so I’m curious whether finished it because you felt obliged since it came from the publishers?

    • Leeswammes says:

      BookerTalk, no, I had hope that it would improve although at some point I was ready to put it away. I get quite a lot of books from publishers so I have become a bit arrogant and will easily put a book away if I don’t like it. If they don’t like me doing that, there are plenty of other publishers! 🙂

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