Deborah Dunn: The Coffins

The Coffins Cover

I received a free digital copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Andrea Warren, a young archaeologist with Native American roots, sets out on a journey to the Outer Banks of North Carolina hoping to unearth the truth about why her father committed suicide when she was a child. All she knows about him is that he was looking for old coffins made from dugout canoes believed by many locals to belong to remnants of the 118 men, women, and children who mysteriously vanished from Roanoke Island in 1590 and have never been found again. When she inherits an old trunk containing his field notes, strange things begin to happen. Dreams, visions, and apparitions seem to be warning her that her life is in danger.  Events turn deadly the closer she gets to the truth: What happened to the Lost Colony? Where did Virginia Dare go?

The Coffins is a suspense, mystery/thriller that sees Andrea Warren attempt to find out the truth behind her father’s supposed suicide. Made aware by his old field notes and journals that he was investigating the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island, Andrea follows in his footsteps in order to find out if his findings ever paid off, and why his interest in these coffins would result in his untimely death. As she falls deeper into the mystery, Andrea begins to uncover the truth and finds herself in deep.

I’d find it hard to believe that anyone wasn’t, in some way, aware of Roanoke and the Lost Colony. Even American Horror Story dedicated an entire series to the mystery – and this is why I was intrigued. I love to read different theories as to what happened in these circumstances and, though I haven’t particularly delved deep, I hadn’t heard anything about coffins before. I was looking forward to a novel that was full of twists and turns, unexpected happenings, and a mystery that was shocking. I didn’t get any of this. . . The twists and turns I did encounter, though I clearly wasn’t expecting them as Dunn does not leave any sort of paper trail to suggest such occurrences, did not in any way shock me. I read through these scenes as if they happened everyday and they didn’t add anything to the novel for me. Any unexpected happenings just seemed a bit out there too me with Andrea experiencing strange dreams and premonitions. I felt like they were just there to try and add something different to her character and enhance the character in regards to her ancestry.

An issue that I found throughout the novel and quickly got very repetitive and boring, was Dunn frequently reintroducing the character of Andrea to every person she seemed to meet. A good couple of times you read about Andrea’s history as an archaeology student and why she was in town, divulging her life story to anyone that she suddenly became friends with and I couldn’t understand why she would do that when, as is clearly evident by the narrative, dialogue, and Andrea’s actions, she is wary around men trying to hit on her or believing them not to have good intentions. Why then, would she tell multiple men all this information about herself within a few seconds/minutes of meeting them?! With that being said, though Andrea is a character that questions a lot, she never follows through. She questions whether she should trust someone as she doesn’t feel comfortable – let’s divulge my life story. She questions whether she should go through with something as it might be dangerous – let’s do it anyway. It felt like Andrea didn’t really possess any common sense as I could sense from side-characters actions and dialogue whether they were legitimately trying to help her or not, but she questioned it but still continued to trust. In this respect I couldn’t really relate to Andrea or get along with her very well as she did not feel complex and human.

With all of these issues, it really made the novel mediocre. If Andrea had been more three-dimensional and a bit more aware, I think she would have been someone I could interact with more. I also felt like, though the narrative plot was also a good concept, with everything else going on around it it just failed to be anything brilliant. Towards the end of the novel I started to question whether I was actually going to find out about these coffins properly, only to be given journal entries and a media outlet where Andrea had found them and was running tests. I didn’t feel like it really gave me all the information I could’ve had but was finding a quick get out of having to write anything more coherent.



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