The Potrero Complex, by Amy L. Bernstein

Seven stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Amy L. Bernstein for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

After being handed this ARC by Amy L. Bernstein, I was curious to see how things would play out. Set in the near future, the story is a little mystery, with a peppering of dystopia and some self-discovery tossed in for good measure. Bernstein keeps things unique and memorable for the reader, even if the product may not have been something that gripped me as much as I would have liked.

Rags Goldner has been though a great deal after a pandemic has taken hold over the world for the last number of years. She’s seeking a fresh start and leaves with her partner, Flint, for a small Maryland town, hoping to find herself once more. The town of Canary offers much to Rags, including a missing teenager, who is all the talk of the town. Effie Rutter must be out there,but Rags must also cut through a bunch of emotional red tape to get to the truth. The mystery rages on with little hope of a simple answer.

While Rags and Flint try to pick up the pieces, they are faced with some daunting experiences that will push them to the brink. This is a new world, one where hope hangs by a thread and no one appears to know what waits around the corner. Both will have to pull up their bootstraps and face reality, even if it does not have all the answers they hope to find. Plus, with Effie still out there, someone has to care enough to push onwards and not let sensationalised journalism take over. Bernstein does well to paint a dreary picture, even if the content was not as tantalizing as I might have hoped.

Amy L. Bernstein has shown that she can write and has a great deal to say. Her delivery is strong and she has ideas to share, but it is perhaps the content that failed to grip me to its fullest extend. Dystopian novels are hit and miss for me, as are things surrounding some ominous larger event. Still, Bernstein does well to keep the story moving forward and kept me guessing how things might resolve themselves by the final page turn.

Good novels have a strong narrative, while great ones pull you in and won’t let go until all is settled. For me, Bernstein offered up something good and kept things flowing with ease. Her narrative is well-paced and allows characters to set their personalities as the larger story progresses. There are some wonderful plot twists and that helps the reader see how the protagonists evolve throughout the piece. I was not as hooked as the dust jacket blurb would have led me to hope, but that may be my short attention span these days. I needed something with more action and a quicker delivery. All the same, many readers may really enjoy Bernstein’s work and I wish them well!

Kudos, Madam Bernstein, for a great effort. I hope many find something wonderful in what you have to say and latch on.

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