Entertainment | Book Review: 'On the Other Side' by Carrie Hope Fletcher (spoiler-free)

This novel follows the story of Evie Snow who, upon entering the afterlife in her old age, finds that her soul is too heavy to pass from the afterlife's 'waiting room' into her own personal heaven. Her journey to unburden her soul takes the reader through several flashbacks to reveal the story of Evie's life of love and sacrifice.

For the most part, I enjoyed reading this novel. The descriptions of places, things and people were beautifully written, with some really great metaphors such as "Eleanor Snow's lips had been pursed for so much of her life that her mouth now closely resembled a cat's behind". I could easily get lost in the squishy sweetness of Evie and Vincent's relationship and I also felt that Fletcher's characters were brilliantly written and very relatable.

However, I do have very mixed views on the novel's use of magical realism. When I was reading about the three secrets (the main points the novel is centred around), their magical nature didn't really make a lot of sense to me as nothing was put in place to explain them. But after reading up on the literary device of magical realism, or fabulism, I felt less critical of its appearance in On the Other Side but also still not entirely convinced. Magical realism refers to the portrayal of magical events in an otherwise realistic, ordinary environment. One aspect of magical realism is that the narrator stays indifferent and acts as if nothing unusual has happened - which does explain the lack of explanation. Yet I still feel I would have liked it more if the magical realism had remained purely symbolic instead of being so central to the plot, but perhaps that's just me not fully grasping the nature of the concept. Saying that, I did still enjoy the positive effects the magical realism had on character development, so my opinions are not entirely negative.

What I do have huge praise for are the life lessons and morality presented in the novel. As Fletcher has stated that Evie was created by taking all the positive elements from all the inspirational women in her life, I feel she did a great job at creating a wonderful role model - which is of course important in a novel to be read by so many teenagers and young women. There were a lot of really positive messages woven into the novel, such as ones of hopefulness, of helping those you love to be happy and of making the best out of a bad situation. Although such messages may seem obvious and even cliched to some readers, they're of great importance to be reminded of, both in one's more formative, teenage years, and throughout the rest of one's life.

Overall, despite my mixed feelings on the execution of the magical realism, I found On the Other Side to be an enjoyable and relaxing read, and admire Fletcher for how many positive messages are there to take away from reading. It's also the kind of novel light enough that it would be ideal to read after just finishing something really heavy like A Song of Ice & Fire or Lord of the Rings.

Have you read On the Other Side or anything similar recently? Let me know your thoughts and comments below!

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