Reviewed by Garret Rose
There has been debate about these famous words penned by William Shakespeare: “Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings,” (Julius Caesar, 1.2.146). The debut novel Coincidence, by J. W. Ironmonger attempts to answer some of the biggest questions about fate and coincidence: Is there a first mover controlling our destiny or are we free to make our own decisions that decide our fate. Or, are we just particles moving around and bouncing off of each other randomly? While by the end of the book, these questions remain unanswered, the story of Azalea Ives is wound with aforementioned questions in an intriguing mystery filled with many layers of narratives that hook the reader.
Azalea has a rare family history; her birth mother and first adaptive mother died on the same day, June 21st, ten years apart. As she begins to uncover more about her family’s history, there are more coincidental incidents that make her feel that she will reach the same fate and meet her death on the midsummer’s day. Thomas Post, who always has felt that he has all of the answers on coincidence, begins to have everything he thought he knew challenged when he and Azalea meet in unusual circumstances. As the book comes to its apex, Thomas’ world turns upside down after he falls in love with Azalea. Will fate deal him a cruel hand and keep him and Azalea apart?
At no point did this novel feel like a debut; the flow is seamless. Ironmonger weaves together many different elements in an efficient and engaging manner; from Azalea’s strange family history to Joseph Kony, the psychopathic child abductor and leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army; and never leaves the reader bored. Each chapter provides some answers to the mysteries of Azalea, and leaves the reader wanting to move onto the next chapter in this page-turning narrative. This would be an excellent read for fans of different genres because there is plenty of action, romance, suspense, intrigue, and even existentialism. Overall, I would rate this as a five out of five and look forward to more sophisticated works from Ironmonger!
Garret loves literature! He is creating the Vernal Journal for his students as well as anyone else that is interested in literature – be it fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, or even miscellaneous! Garret’s goal is to share, review and make connections to the world and each other.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harper Perennial. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.