I am conflicted as to how to rate this book. I picked it up multiple times to try to read it and only recently was I able to finish the book. AsHmm..
I am conflicted as to how to rate this book. I picked it up multiple times to try to read it and only recently was I able to finish the book. As soon as I had gotten started, I was hooked. The world of this book was, as one reviewer noted on Wikipedia, "not meaty but creative." Nine types of songs and singers! A different skill for each song! One song is silent! The types of singers/songs are given fairly early on; note to readers: bookmark that page.
Calwyn lives high in the icy mountains in a snowy convent filled with singers of ice (meaning she can create ice from singing). She meets Darrow, a singer of iron (but also of earth?), who can make things fly (hmm...that's a bit weird, but I went along with it). The beginning of the book, how Calwyn learns of the different songs and her friendship with the injured-and-doomed-to-be-sacrificed Darrow is excellent. In fact, the first half of the book was riveting! I simultaneously read and searched for spoilers for fear of becoming overexcited! Yes, I read the wikipedia blurb on this book while I was reading it, which ruined it not at all for me.
Calwyn has a plan to defeat Darrow's nemesis/childhood friend (Samis) who has been thwarted in his rise to throne by his father the Emperor picking another son to be heir. As he was rather talented in iron-chanting, he decided he could pick up other chantments as well, and so become "singer of all songs" and take over the world (a planet called Tremaris). It's a race to the finish line as Calwyn comes up with a plan to collect different "singers" and have a sing-down with Samis. It took me a while to realize that this was what was happening because Darrow, Mr. Sulky, pooh-poohed Calwyn's idea in lieu of frowning and moping. After Trout (from the land of fire, chantments that have been totally lost) and Mica (wind-singer), the story sort of went downhill. They keep on sailing and find Halasaa, a Tree-person who has the song of "Becoming" (healing), and somehow he can communicate with the prehistoric dinosaur birds (song of beasts)?? The Becoming song is completely silent so he telepathically talks to all of them?? And then he is hinted at being Calwyn's brother?????????????? And the Tree People didn't like Calwyn + company landing in their midst, so then Halasaa travels with them to their destination?? (Halasaa coming with them was a huge stretch to me, unlike Trout and Mica's tagging along for the ride.)
Then Samis tells them that the singer of all songs doesn't need to sing all the songs but request such songs be sung. Okay, I get that. But then we're all counting down the songs being sung, and Tonno seeing his brother in the forest is...Samis singing the Seeming (taking on another's appearance) or who was it floating through the forest as Tonno's brother? Samis blowing on the trumpet of song of fire...is him learning/having the power of this song (so, if you got an instrument of chantment, that works too????)? And...what did Halasaa do? And where did the Song of Beasts come into play? What? And how did Samis even die? Was it because of Calwyn singing the ice-song or Trout not being able to hear any songs (being partially deaf and perhaps blind as well) and aiming a rock at the floating magical orb?? What?? WTH just happened???
Yes, the ending was a giant question mark for me. It felt rushed as though the writer ran out of momentum and decided to end the book quickly. And suddenly Darrow, who's spent the entirety of the book sulking and not talking to people, is enamored of Calwyn and wants a future with her? What? (I get Calwyn having a crush on him. C'mon, the girl lived in a convent up in the mountains and was instrumental in saving this foreign-looking youngish brooding guy. If she didn't have a crush on him, that'd be weird.)
I am giving this book 3 stars and not 2, just because the idea was pretty awesome and the first half of the book was captivating and fast-paced. The second half, as some reviewers noted, suddenly took place in a dystopic abandoned high-tech city. Oh yes, the fact that they're on a planet called Tremaris could also have been made a lot clearer earlier on....more
I'm not one for high fantasy and epic tales anymore, but I found myself reading this book in a day. It's easy reading and I found the author's tale abI'm not one for high fantasy and epic tales anymore, but I found myself reading this book in a day. It's easy reading and I found the author's tale absorbing, despite the fact that I feel that the blurb is slightly misleading. The blurb states that Rosie is captured by the dragon, yadda yadda, but this event happens more than halfway into the book.
I would characterize this story as more of a coming of age story of a pampered, lonely princess fueled by her mother's ambition. It's completely told from Rosie's point of view, and I thought the author's treatment of the Queen (Rosie's mother) is singularly well done. You saw the Queen at first as a mother with a spine of iron, who nonetheless inspires devotion from her people, love from her husband the king, and loves her daughter (but does not spoil her). This is borne out by the first scene, in which they are closeted in the Queen's room for a weekly meeting to chisel Rosie's dragon claw down.
There's a mystery of sorts, as Rosie grows from 14 (as she is at the start of the book) to 16, as she sees more and more of her mother's ambition for her, which was also at the beginning her own ambition -- to defeat the usurper Stephen and wed Prince Henry. It's not surprising this was her ambition, as her mother sung songs and wove tapestries to gift Rosie about her becoming the Queen to free Wilde island and rule over England. At the beginning, she's told all sorts of things of her birth, how the finger bone of a saint allowed her to be conceived, etc. How the two women planned and devoted their lives to finding ways to charm her finger back to a normal finger. How her mother had donned gold gloves the day she was born so that she could always hide her finger, and how this trend became a symbol of chastity for highborn ladies.
But bit by bit, Rosie has to come to face the extent of her mother's mad ambition and resolve to achieve Rosie's destiny, not the least of which culminated in several calculated murders of people who learn by mistake of Rosie's claw-finger.
As for the romance, I know a number of reviewers disliked the "insta-love" of Rosie for Kye, the dragonslayer. In this case, I wouldn't quite characterize it as insta-love, (1) because Rosie doesn't rave on and on about how she loved him and how wonderful and handsome he is, (2) this girl has never had a friend in her entire life, nor is she surrounded by a bevy of handsome eligible men. As the envoy's son from Queen Mathilda, Kye is the first young man around her age to enter into her world, in a singularly dashing fashion (hailed as the brave dragonslayer) and it just so happens he has blue eyes and is quite chivalrous and friendly with her. It wouldn't take a Twilighty chick to withstand those epic charms. (Yes, Rosie has her friend, Kit, but that friend was won through hard work, and she had that friend less than two years before she had to be sent away for fear that her mother would kill Kit. So. Lonely girl with a secret deformity. Not in the realms of impossibility.)
I do agree that the ending is a bit pat, but all in all, it's a lovely book. I would recommend it for those who enjoyed Seraphina. ...more
I am always on the lookout for a good retelling. For a debut novel, this author shows promise. But I still didn't like the book.
First, the good.
The woI am always on the lookout for a good retelling. For a debut novel, this author shows promise. But I still didn't like the book.
First, the good.
The work of an author that does her homework before embarking on the magical journey of storytelling always shines through. The author clearly spent a lot of time thinking about her magical world and she even knows quite a bit of Greek mythology, aside from the mundane that everyone knows, growing up in the Western Hemisphere. (Seriously, isn't it sad how we know everything there is to know about history, that is, Roman and Greek culture (a bit on Egypt and a little bit on Alexander, because we think of him as white, of course), and then the Western world, and...that's it? US schools never teach about ancient Persia or Turkey or Mongolia or India.)
The world in this book is a cursed country that's been split off from the mainland and sealed under a parchment sky. They are all under the reign of one Gentle Lord (irony) who rules the demons that make people crazy if they look at them too long. The GL is also one sorta omniscient being who grants wishes. Sorta. He grants them in the form of bargains that never pan out right. Say, like the main character's dad. Your wife is super-duper depressed because she's barren, so you go and bargain with this god who likes to play jokes on people. He promises that your wife will bear, not a son like you requested, but twin girls, and you have to betroth one of those daughters to him 17 years later. If not, he'll take one and kill the other. If you do, he'll let the other one live. So basically, you get one daughter on loan, and he'll give you a free girl. Kind of a crappy deal, but the dad takes it, and then the wife dies in childbirth. Gee, with these sorts of deals, one wonders why people still do business with the GL.
The GL dwells in the ruins of a castle atop a hill (of course), but the castle is sort of cool. From the outside, it looks old and shabby, but the inside is immense and filled with rooms that are locked, and the rooms revolve around itself. Is there a pattern? No, and you don't need to understand how the castle works, because you'll go mad thinking about it. (I do like this sort of out. Simplistic.)
Nyx is sent there after having been trained a lifetime -- not with swords or anything, with a sort of martial art -- but not for combat, for tracing magical patterns in the air with her eyes closed. If you're hoping that she turns into some karate kid with those crappy skills, don't bother. It doesn't happen, and she loses that knife her sister gives her on the first day to the GL. Her mission: to find the four Hearts that sustain the castle, draw the hermetic patterns on the Hearts to undo the "knot" and collapse the castle on the GL and herself. Yay for the rest of humanity.
It doesn't work, of course. Because there's a weird catch. You find out there's a model of the country inside a dome in a room in the castle -- that's the country. So if the castle collapses, the entire country dies. Bah for that plan.
So the entire back story is sort of awesome, and makes me want to bump up the rating to 3 stars. I'm a fan of how the king of the land 900 years ago was the awesome King Claudius, who struck a deal with the gods to save the land from barbarians and died the entire monarchy into a deal with the devil that eventually led to the country's curse. The hermetic Hearts? Also a sort of awesomeness. Kudos for all the creativity and the Greek setting. The entire story was a sort of Bluebeard + Eros & Psyche (which is the Greek version of Beauty and the Beast). I do really like the story of Bluebeard. There's also some oddity with Nyx having to guess her husband's name every single night -- if she guesses wrong, she dies; if she guesses right, she gets her freedom. Is that a bit of Rumpelstiltskin thrown in?
The Bad What I didn't like about this story is the characters, the flow, the resolution.
First, the characters. When we're first introduced to Nyx, we get that she resents her sister for being chosen to "live." She's in between loving her sister and hating her. We get it. I like how it's not a self-righteous "I'm doing this for the good of my family and the world, o noble person that I am." However, this is repeated ad nauseum and hit over your head and then back to punch you in the guts. Enough already. Move on to explore another emotion.
There's Ignifex (the GL's pseudonym) and his Shadow that moves independently of him. (view spoiler)[They're the same person!!! This should really be obvious as THEY LOOK ALIKE. Somehow, Nyx assumes from the very beginning that they're two different people locked together, and I don't get the basis of this assumption. It's SO OBVIOUS that they're the same person, just split up. She doesn't even consider that they're the same person, which is what's annoying. (hide spoiler)] Nyx loves the Shadow, then she loves Ignifex, and then, then she's not sure. Make up your mind already. Or, might I suggest a new solution? Here's something that'll blow your mind: You don't have to be in love with anyone!
Also, Ignifex is sort of a lightweight. He's about as intimidating as a bunny. Sure, a bunny may accidentally scratch you when they're skittering across your lap. And if you're chasing the bunny through a gate, you may accidentally hit your head on the fencepost since you're not as small as the bunny. The only cool part was when he was enraged with her and locked her in the room with all his dead wives. But even that scene wasn't as cool as it should have been. When I'm told of a scary Gentle Lord who controls the demons, I want to see someone super freakin' scary, not someone who gets nauseated by darkness. C'mon!! Seriously, people.
The Shadow. At first you think he might become a main character, since he's all coming onto Nyx, who kisses him for whatever reason. This enables him to talk, which I feel is a cop out. Much more interesting if he hadn't been able to talk. And I thought his talking ability would fade out, since a kiss is like...well, doesn't that also fade. But no, he talks and at one point, he shows her the Heart of Fire, and Nyx is tortured by the fire because it's killed five of the wives before, and she thinks she's been betrayed by him, even though, durr, didn't she want to find the 4 Hearts?? I mean, she goes on at length about this "betrayal," and then the Shadow is then conveniently locked into the Pit of Demons or whatever for the length of time that it took Nyx to get it on with Ignifex. Oops, too much detail? Never mind, it's all less than fade to black. This book is very PG.
Anyway, the rest is all pretty boring. At one point, she gets to go back home, because her telling her sister that she hates her has been weighing down on her mind (what, she can't send a letter?) and so, armed with Ignifex's magical ring, she goes back, and there is persuaded to betray Ignifex. Yadda yadda yadda, she goes back and "betrays" him, which I don't even know if it's a betrayal. That whole thing was sort of weird to me, because essentially she (view spoiler)[rejoins Ignifex with his Shadow and returns them all to the day the country was cursed and sundered from the mainland and when the Last King had to past his test with the gods...which Ignifex at the time failed. (hide spoiler)]
So, yeah. In recounting the book, I have to say, I didn't like it. And good golly, I hated the romance. Some other reviewer thought the romance was too much, and I have to say I agree. It was just done so badly. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
For most of this book, I wavered between three and four stars. The beginning was beautiful, haunting (not the prologue, which I thought was a little tFor most of this book, I wavered between three and four stars. The beginning was beautiful, haunting (not the prologue, which I thought was a little too thick and not entirely necessary -- probably necessary for a series, but unnecessary for this book). The pacing was incredibly fast and exciting. In the first chapter, we are introduced to their village, the drakon enclave and by the end of it, Clarissa Rue has died and disappeared. By the second chapter, it's already years later and she's in London, posing as random aristocrats and making off with diamonds of the highest caliber. By the fourth or fifth chapter, she's already been caught by Kit and led back to the enclave in a blindfold -- fast, right? I know, it's awesome.
And then suddenly it begins to slow down, until by the middle of the book, it feels like the rest is redundant, and like the prologue, unnecessary. Why? Well, the reason is probably due to the fact that Clarissa has been in love with Kit forever -- not surprising, considering that he was the rich aristocrat, the alpha's son who will inherit the leadership, and talented in flying besides. I mean, that's gotta be super cool. Added to that, he's extremely hot, with blond hair and green eyes. There are not a lot of romance novel guys that I find super hot (even though, say, for the sake of the book, I would find the hero with endearing qualities, but not appealing on a personal level), and I'm not even partial to blondes, but there was something about the descriptions of how he moves, how he talks, how he looks at a woman that make him really unbelievably attractive. So, with this triple or quadruple hammer, it's no wonder that Clarissa adores him, being the little insignificant and poor half-breed that she was.
The Plot So, it's decreed that as the Alpha, only an Alpha female would be able to mate with Kit. Kit is undoubtedly the Alpha, being able to Turn (into smoke and then drakon) at the precocious age of 10. There has been no other female who's been able to Turn for hundreds of years, but there's a seriously catty female in the village (who picks on Clarissa and does the nasty with Kit) who's been the undisputed Alpha. So, when Clarissa finds that she can Turn at 17, she runs away (a HUGE felony according to their bylaws) instead of being compelled to marry Kit, who would only marry her out of obligation but not love her. There's nothing worse than being married to a man you love but who doesn't love you back. All understandable.
Clarissa then goes to London and becomes Rue the jewelry thief (but for the sake of the review, will remain Clarissa) because of her awesome Turning ability. When the news of this "thief that can turn into smoke" reaches the enclave, they all know, of course, that it's one of them, and horror of horrors, is beyond their immediate jurisdiction, thus putting all of them at risk. So, they decide to put up the Langford diamond (diamonds apparently have magical abilities for the drakon) as bait in order to capture this smoke thief.
But drakon can sense one another, and so they sensed that she was there, and Kit corners her, now startlingly beautiful, and instead of brazening things out (or NOT even going in the first place), she turns to smoke RIGHT in front of him, leaving him holding her dress. She then hides out but Kit has an amazing nose and sniffs out where she lives. He comes over and hides in her room, and after a bit of fencing, he disappears into the sky (smoke -> drakon) and she curses under her breath and plunges into the sky after him.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED? But why??? Why would she do this? Because at this point, you think the diamond thievery was a joint affair by her and someone else. But later, you find out that she didn't take it and she never planned it!!
So, in retrospect, you wonder why she would chase after Kit like that only to be caught...if she didn't take it in the first place! I seriously thought she had...but she didn't? I thought maybe the other guy was an accomplice, but it turns out he wasn't!
Then she gets tricked by Kit and is caught by the enclave, the only thing she can do to bargain her freedom (Kit's bound and determined to make her come back as his bride, and she's equally determined to NOT do this...so, why did she reveal herself able to Turn in the first place??) is to rat out the actual diamond thief.
Thusly, the two of them set out for London for 2 weeks to catch the thief. The Alpha apparently has the ability to sway the Council...except Kit doesn't seem like he has this power most of the time, except in little shows of violence. A bunch of times when he could have evinced true power (such as setting various people free, like Clarissa, or even himself), he doesn't and just pounds on the table or throws darts that cut off other councilmembers' hair. And yet, it was undisputed that he could?? So, that's also quite confusing and unnecessary. And then at the end, he somehow lets the other Runner free -- and why did this Runner steal the diamond in the first place? He stole it because Clarissa's waif-boy asked him to. Really? REALLY? The man cuts off his HAND to run away from the enclave and steals the DRAKONS' CHIEF DIAMOND because a waif asks him to??????? HOW does that even make sense??
And in the end, you know what's going to happen is that he's going to "set her free," that is, free from the enclave, free to live where she wants, instead of being a slave in their hometown...which apparently is the fate of all drakon, and the Runners are dealt with with macabre violence (wings clipped, torture, killed, etc.) But this was a given that nobody could escape the penalty for Running (away), not even the Alpha...but the Alpha can set someone else free? It's quite confusing. But you know that it's a romance novel, so of course, the biggest show of "love" is to set them free, so you know that he's going to do this, because Clarissa really chafes at the bit and she HATES the fact that she would be forced to be with Kit. And yet this doesn't happen, and it doesn't happen, and it still doesn't happen, and when it finally does, it was kind of an anticlimax, like, okay...that's not so exciting anymore. And I'm not one to like angst (some angst is necessary to have a satisfactory feeling, but it's the unnecessary angst that's just...well, ridiculous), but she immediately goes, forget that, I wanna be with you, Kit my man! But this conflict within her was the basis of some 200 pages of their conflict, and suddenly, with a wave of the hand, she says, oh that's not an issue anymore??
So that part was unfortunate.
I really enjoyed the beginning, but I think the plot started to go downhill when it's revealed she didn't steal the Langford diamond and basically gives up the other Runner (to death, essentially) in exchange for her freedom.
The Biggest Inconsistency (for me) Basically, in the end, you find out that she runs from the enclave because as the Alpha female who can Turn, she would have been forced to marry an unloving Kit -- so then if she knew it was going to be a trap and wanted to keep hidden, why turn up, and why Turn to smoke in FRONT of the Alpha -- a sure sign you'll be captured to MARRY him in direct opposition of what you wanted in the first place???
So this book could have gone a lot better, but because it was fairly well written, I'm going to go ahead and give this 3 stars instead of 2. Since you don't really start to think about all its holes until it's over but I did enjoy this book because overall, it was a decent read despite all the holes....more
This is an exceptionally well-written YA novel, and I believe that this work will hold up through the years.
In essence, Kate and Emily are orphaned whThis is an exceptionally well-written YA novel, and I believe that this work will hold up through the years.
In essence, Kate and Emily are orphaned when their father dies, and are sent to live with two (now spinster) great-aunts under the guardianship of their uncle, who doesn't like them: Kate's paternal grandfather owned Hollow Hill and after his wife dies, picks up an orphan playmate for his daughter. One day his daughter is also lost to the Hollow Hill woods, and broken-hearted, he takes the playmate away and adopts her as his daughter. This orphan is Kate and Emily's mother, making them no blood relation to the uncle, so he's understandably bitter about them being the ultimate heirs to the estate.
Kate makes for a great, seldom seen in YA, heroine. She's small, beautiful, and golden-haired. But other than that, although well-educated by her father, she takes herself sort of seriously and doesn't laugh very often. She's not the typical heroine in which she's always reading books -- instead her favorite pastime is lying in the woods among the trees and staring up at the stars. Her younger sister, in stark contrast, is vivacious, outspoken, and adventurous. The two definitely have a strong rapport -- yet they are very different, and many things that Kate wishes to talk about, she can't with her younger sister.
One day, they are walking out from the forest when they lose their way -- which is strange, because Kate has never gotten lost there before. They come across a campfire with a small gnarled gypsy woman and two men on horseback. Kate gets the eerie feeling that if she were to allow herself to be led home on horseback, she would be taken away and never return home. So she doesn't. But when at the door of her house, the man allows her to see him without his hood, and Kate is horrified, because he is no man -- with gray pointy teeth, mismatching eyes, and coarse, horse-like hair.
Kate is of a suspicious and careful turn of mind, but no one believes her. Thereafter, Marak the goblin tries multiple times to capture her, and Kate is in a frenzy to escape. She attempts to run away, but she is caught by the uncle. She brazens things out, but he sets out to make her out to be crazy and incompetent. Then her sister disappears. It has to be the goblin -- right? So she goes to Marak to offer herself as an exchange.
I've almost given away the entire book, but there are some good bits regarding the uncle getting his comeuppance, her wedding to Marak (which is a crazy, barbaric ritual), and her miserable first days underground. But then when the goblin kingdom is in danger and under attack by a man possessed, we see Kate step forward to set things right.
It's not a happy or light story, but a fantastic version of the Persephone story. There's nothing to indicate that it's based off the Persephone story, but a bride stolen from aboveground to a hated underground world where she's held captive is pretty much the Persephone story. There's nothing salacious about her life with Marak, and yes, there probably should be a tad more detail, and yet the give and take between them for the first half of the book is oddly engrossing and realistic -- for once, we don't have a hero from the underground who looks like a dark-haired Brad Pitt. Marak is described in detail and he's grotesque, but he's also humorous and charming in his own way, which I find more appealing and frankly, it's more challenging for an author to render a ugly man attractive. And there's nothing exceptionally emo about Marak and how he kidnaps her to bring her underground. He doesn't go back and forth about whether he should capture her or not -- for him, it's a way of life and ensures the survival of an entire people. There's nothing coy about how Kate tries to escape from Marak -- there's no other "hot guy" who shows up to save her or stand in as the other angle. She doesn't escape because of some emotional romance novel reason, like "she wants him to love her to set her free" or some other such nonsense -- she's actually running for her life, getting away from a supernatural kidnapper. There's nothing romantic or human about their wedding day -- in fact, it must have been horrifying for Kate as the newcomer to the underground. But somehow, it all works. It works fantastically. It all works realistically, and Kate finds happiness in her life below ground. Would it have been better if she could have it both ways, to live above ground and below ground? Perhaps. But that wasn't the story, and what the story was (what some people call the Stockholm Syndrome), worked out in its own way. It's a fairy tale, after all, and a somewhat dark one, but beautiful for all that. ...more
The really great thing about this book is that it was written so long ago (1990) and it reads so quickly that the writing doesn't seem to have aged atThe really great thing about this book is that it was written so long ago (1990) and it reads so quickly that the writing doesn't seem to have aged at all. I contrast this writing with Song in the Silence, by Elizabeth Kerner (1996), which came highly recommended, but the narrative was so full of boring prose -- of the sort that seems old-fashioned to me, but it may just be a writing style.
(view spoiler)[ In the book, a short story is told about a king who fell in love with someone of the sea (not explained -- you are to assume that it's a mermaid or the queen of the sea, but no fins or tails are ever mentioned, only pearls and shells in the hair) and had a son by her, and then had a son with his young wife of obligation. The queen of the sea loved the king but was angry at him, so took his human son with her into the sea and gave him her inhuman son of the sea.
So, in the beginning, when Peri meets Kir, the king's son, that's when the book opens up. In general, the book ends on a much better note than how it started. Peri is angry and grieving when she hexes the sea. She meets Kir, the king's son, who longs to be a part of the sea but it refuses to let him in. Meanwhile, a sea-dragon with a humongous chain of gold starts to peer at the fishers from the ocean. A magician called Lyo comes into the picture at the behest of the town to bring back the gold chain (it was very tempting to the villagers). Somehow the sea-dragon begins to drag itself out of the sea and visits Peri in the form of a human for several hours a night -- it was the king's human son who had been under an enchantment.
It's quite a lovely story, and at the beginning Peri and Kir start having feelings for each other -- but the feelings they have for each other are criticized by other reviewers as being not developed or romantic -- but that was really the way it was supposed to be. They don't know each other that well, and Kir was a really tortured soul. He seemed to be connected to Peri only because he saw in her something apart from the villagers. Although that was quite odd, because she hated the sea so much, so why would he want her to take a message to the sea on his behalf?? Their "romance" doesn't seem much of a romance, and I much preferred Lyo to him, or even the sea-dragon, who never had to fear anything in his inhuman shape.
In the end, Kir elects to leave his land-home and go into the sea (and it turns out that Peri is quite the magician, because her few words are able to prevent things from happening or spur things on), and the sea-dragon walks out of the sea as a human. The king meets with his old-time lover (not a really exciting scene), and then Lyo comes to see Peri and reveals shyly that he had always been fond of her, but she had always had princes around her. The End.
(hide spoiler)]All in all, it was an interesting story, but it was weird that Peri was in the midst of all this. Why her? I guess maybe because she was supposed to be magical? The characters were not developed that well for me, probably because Kir took up such a large portion of the story, but he turns out to be the least likable part.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I wanted to like this book so much. It started out so promising. You felt so unbelievably sorry for Elena, who was a victim not of her own accord -- tI wanted to like this book so much. It started out so promising. You felt so unbelievably sorry for Elena, who was a victim not of her own accord -- the beginning was so great, describing how Elena would have liked to go against her stepmother, and how she would have liked to request shoes, but she couldn't -- because the one time she did, she was beaten with a cane, and if she reported it to the magistrate, they wouldn't do a thing about it, since she was the rightful property of her parent, as an unmarried child. It was great. It felt full of promise. Despite her sorry life, Elena was a survivor, even though she didn't feel much of one. As soon as her stepmother ran away from her debtors, she pulled herself together and was going to sell herself off to be a servant. All super realistic and super noble.
Then the fairy godmother shows up and tells her that because of THE TRADITION, things that are supposed to happen were about to happen but couldn't because of factors that didn't line up. I mean, you read in the blurb about the prince of Elena's kingdom who was only 11 years old. That's fantastic, and just about the only example that the reader needs, because honestly, the only thing fair about poor Cinderella's story is the fact that she gets her prince, right?
Except the author goes on to tell, oh, maybe 5 more drawn-out examples. You're introduced to the Fairy King and Queen (who are interesting enough characters), but then you're introduced to a buttload of other not so interesting characters that you basically start skimming over their names. There's the example of the Arachnia, the evil fairy/sorceress who is supposed to go to a christening and make the princess into a Sleeping Beauty, but Elena, our fairy godmother-in-training, circumvents that with her mentor, by putting some younger son/prince/poet in her way, and also by NOT making him a scumbag <-- I point this out, because this was underlined several times in the book by several different magical persons.
Anyway, blah blah blah, while Elena is training and reading books (seriously, why must every single heroine be a book-lover? I know authors are necessarily book-lovers, but it's a bore when people want to show that their characters are intelligent by having them like reading), the first 150 pages of the book reads a little bit like The History of Fairy Godmothers and The TRADITION. ENOUGH already. Why? Because it's all written as exposition. None of it really feels like it matters -- probably because the blurb has Elena's first "test" as testing three princes. So you are just waiting for that to happen, because it's in the blurb, so you logically feel that's when her adventure starts.
But it's not. It's in Chapter 11 (yup, that's about 170 pages in, folks) when Alexander first shows up (at least, I'm pretty sure it was Chapter 11, because I skipped some chapters and didn't feel like I missed anything), and it's GREAT. Alexander's first appearance made up for the 100 pages of crap about The Tradition. He was an awesome prince. Totally arrogant and suspicious of others, and so rigid in his military upbringing, but, you know, not in a bad way, because at least he wasn't stupid. So it's great.
But THEN for some reason after Elena turned him into a donkey, she was compelled to take him home with her. Okay, I can buy that -- except their interactions are SO BORING that finally I had to give up. Because frankly the character that got the most air time wasn't Elena or Alexander, or even Octavian (Alexander's older brother -- who was also kind of likable), but THE TRADITION. That's right. Every other word was reserved for THE TRADITION, and there were so many examples littered with working around THE TRADITION or utilizing THE TRADITION or just dealing with THE TRADITION, that it felt like the author brainstormed beforehand on how to make THE TRADITION into an actual believable and logical idea, that she then felt compelled to put ALL those examples into the book, one after another. And then because she felt like maybe her audience wouldn't buy into the idea of THE TRADITION guiding and forcing everyone into a set formula, she had to repeatedly reinforce those ideas and its power into the readers.
In the end, I felt less and less convinced about THE TRADITION and really dubious about this whole Kingdoms world that Lackey had created that I gave up. The basic rule of fantasy novels is that readers go into the books, ready and willing to believe in this fantasy world, with any "rule of thumb" that you throw at them -- unless you try to reason them otherwise. It's your freaking fantasy world -- people can fly if they want to -- why do you need to try so hard to convince them??
200 pages in, I threw in the towel, disgusted not only with THE TRADITION (which was basically the Matrix, but not as cool), but also Lackey's writing, which started to resemble legalese.
What a waste of my time. And while the author showed promise (in the beginning), it might be a while before I give her another try....more
I read this book after watching the movie, and I would give the movie a higher rating than the book, even though the book is highly readable and enjoyI read this book after watching the movie, and I would give the movie a higher rating than the book, even though the book is highly readable and enjoyable. I just didn't feel that the writing was that beautiful in comparison with how well the film was. However, the book does elucidate some aspects that weren't or couldn't be explained in the movie:
(1) The fact that he had no smell meant that any perfume he made would make him be another person entirely.
(2) He makes perfumes that makes him inconspicuous, pitiable, etc. (Therefore people/animals either ignore him or will give him money.)
(3) The main girl's perfume was what he had been searching for all his life -- her perfume was such that it made her lovable (even though people thought to themselves that she was beautiful, but she actually wasn't -- her perfume made her irresistible).
Also, in the movie, everyone he comes across dies, but in the book, the first few people that took care of him didn't die immediately -- the fact that they were made to die immediately after he leaves makes a bigger impact.
If you've even read one review, you'll know that there's a HUGE cliffhanger at the end of the book, and it's not even for sure whether or not there'llIf you've even read one review, you'll know that there's a HUGE cliffhanger at the end of the book, and it's not even for sure whether or not there'll be a third book. So be aware.
Also, know that this book, while it's a mystery, it's also a romance, and it doesn't work out as well as the first book.
I'm not going to go into the plot of the book, because like all of her books so far, which are all first-person YA, it moves bit by bit while you uncover secrets or things happen and happen until there's a finale. All small things, generally by the habitual movements of the main character -- in the first book, by Digger going around uncovering secrets, and in Curse Dark as Gold, by Charlotte trying to make the mill work. In this one, she was snatched up and tossed into prison to land in the same cell as Durrel. It turns out that Raffin is the one to arrange this, because he wants to help his good friend, even though Raffin is now a Greensman. On a side note, does anyone feel like Raffin is pretty much like Wierolf? Their characters or descriptions feel pretty much the same, with Raffin just a bit more jokey.
Even though the first book ended with Digger going back to save or find Tegen, this doesn't happen. Or at least she's convinced that he's dead. Of course you know on the very last page he returns, just as she's just been doing the dirty with Durrel.
A lot of the reviews felt this book was slower, and it really was. Things didn't seem to be moving, because at the beginning she couldn't figure out where to investigate. While realistic, that part was just a bit too slow, but not a big deal. Eventually, things turn up and whaddaya know, (view spoiler)[ Lord Decath, Durrel's father, is the one who killed Talth, Durrel's Ceid wife. (hide spoiler)] I don't know how realistic that was, and it didn't even read very smoothly for me, because first of all, he's written as a uber good guy, even though you are led to think that he's been doing all this terrible stuff to Sarists (magic people). But the author tries to make him seem GOOD and also have done this terrible thing out of anger. I'm sorry, but poisoning anyone is NOT a crime done out of instantaneous rage. Strangling, stabbing, pushing, running someone down is a crime done out of rage. But poisoning? I mean, I guess it could happen, but it's just rare enough to be sort of...odd. Plus, they all knew Talth (what's with the weird names in this series?) to be a terrible person. I don't know why it didn't end up being Barista (I can't even remember his name, but the step son of Talth). I could see him doing it.
Also, I kept waiting for him to confess to Durrel at the very end, and he never did. So the whole thing just got buried, and I felt like Karsta getting the blame for it was sort of crappy. I mean, he was a terrible person, sure, he was violent and scary and he was also dead at the end, but still people should be held accountable for the crimes they commit. And it was sort of like DIGGER could justify it in her head and she just did. It would have been better if, I don't know, Digger thought that if he never told Durrel that she didn't have the right, because she promised that she would let him tell. Or even if she thought it was a "nob's sort of justice" or whatever. But in her head, she just thought, well Karsta's a bad person, and he was a good person, so ok, that's how it should be. That's pretty judgmental and crappy.
I didn't complain about the names in the first book, probably because it didn't bother me then, but the names started bothering me in this book. There are all these made-up names and no way to know how they are pronounced. All the rest, I don't care about, but I found myself fixating on Celyn Contrare. Is that pronounced Saline, or Sailin', or Ceiling, or Selene? This fixation got pretty bad at the end of the book.
Also, as a romantic interest, like many people, I was in Wierolf's camp. Durrel was much better in the first book where he was just throwing earnest and probing looks in Digger's direction. In this book, where you get to know him a lot better, he just comes off as a weak, sickly boy who's always going to be whipped. I do applaud the author for making this sort of guy the love interest though. That's guts right there. But ugh, Durrel was nasty to me. He was described as being slight and always sort of sickly as a child. He is also always described as having a pretty face (the sort sure to be raped in prison) and he had his own sense of "nobility" and "honor." Meaning, he may throw wistful glances at all the girls and make all the girls think he's into her, but he will reserve a part of himself for only that person; however, he will still have all these other secrets with all these other girls. Wonderful. A dream man there. In the first book, he didn't come across so irritating.
Raffin, in this book, is so much better. He must have grown up a little, at least in the descriptions. He comes across as a man now, not so prone to joking around. But of course, he's neatly filed away and sent off to play with Talth's daughter (Durrel's initial love interest).
Basically, this book built up to this great big drama, and when the killer is revealed, it's not nearly so interesting. And what's with that girl (the witness -- servant girl who condemned Durrel)? Digger kept saying how something she said felt off somehow, but in the end, she was a reliable witness? What's that all about?
Not as enjoyable as the first; the build-up took FOREVER, but the writing was good so it wasn't as terrible as it could have been.
And what's with the recent trend in having a girl look out from the cover? At least this cover isn't a close-up of a random girl who doesn't look remotely like the main character, but pretty close.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
There are some authors that read better on Kindle and some that read better on paper. I felt this author read better on Kindle and unfortunately I reaThere are some authors that read better on Kindle and some that read better on paper. I felt this author read better on Kindle and unfortunately I read this one on paper.
I should state at the outset that as of this review date, if you don't like reading unfinished series, then don't pick this series up, because although the second book ends on SUCH an annoying cliffhanger, the third book doesn't seem to be in the immediate works. I would state that the author seems to want to write the third book and it's the publishers that dropped the series (why?? very short-sighted) but I feel that if the author went ahead and self-published the third book by herself, she might see even better results, like a lot of rejected authors who self-published. Just a feeling. However, it doesn't seem to be in the immediate works.
The author is a really good one and one to watch. Since Curse Dark as Gold (which was already a really solid book, despite my problems with it), she has improved in terms of character development, or maybe Digger was just more likeable than Charlotte Miller.
The story is set in a Renaissance Florentine era, but in a fantasy world where there are 7 moons (each a different god) and all the gods have been outlawed in Llyvranth. Digger is a sort of slums kid-turned-thief who was hanging with her partner/boyfriend Tegen after a gig when they are jumped by Greensmen (guards of the king who wants to force everyone to be monotheistic). After running off and being saved by the group of four nobles, she is on her way to become helper to Merista (due to earnest pleading of Durrel and similarly earnest eye-flirtin' going on there).
All is well up in the mountain with Digger randomly thieving pockets until she runs across Lord Daul and tries to nick something from him. Sort of stupid, as when she is trying the first time, her hand slips and then pretty soon, she's caught and he tries to get her to spy on the group for him, getting some journal that's been left to his half-brother (Meri's dad).
Here's where I got sort of annoyed with Digger.
SPOILERS TO FOLLOW(view spoiler)[She is supremely grateful to Meri's folks, as well as Meri, who's nothing but the soul of sweetness. Also, Meri's mother has been revealed to be an understanding woman. However, instead of unburdening herself to Meri or her mother, she goes along with Lord Daul and spies on the people who's nice to her for the man who's a big sleaze?
It didn't work that well, at least not for me. I kept thinking that Lord Daul was going to be a sort of Snape, a double-dealing double-dealer and that he was going to turn out to be actually on the same side of Meri's folks. It really read like that! But it didn't. He was dirty to the end -- although dirty isn't really apropos, because this is war, after all, and one can say that everyone has a different side of story. But he is made to be creepier and creepier, for sure. At one point, it's revealed that he also got the super experienced prostitute friend of Digger to also spy for him and do all sorts of dirty stuff because he's not a person to whom you just say "no."
The reason I don't think it worked that well for me was because Meri's parents are revealed to be not exactly walking on the side of the law -- that is, they are not following the king's edict in reporting all non-monotheistic people. They themselves took part of a failed rebellion years ago, for which they were punished by having their estate absorbed back into the country and their child being held as "hostage" in another household. That being the case, it didn't seem like they would kick out the 16y/o girl who traveled with their daughter for being a thief...since they didn't kick her out or report her for running away from the nunnery (apparently a HUGE crime in the book, wherein if reported, one could get a lot of money from the nunnery). Compared to that and possible treason years ago, it didn't seem plausible that they would come down hard on a little thievin'. Thieving is a petty crime compared to treason, right?
And yet, she didn't tell them. Which in itself is weird. But ok, whatever. But add onto THAT, she felt that it would be "unprofessional" of her to not do a good job spying and stealing things from Meri's parents ON BEHALF of Lord Daul. Therefore, because she had a reputation to uphold as a thief, she felt she had to do it thoroughly. WHAT? How does that even make sense? I mean, if there had been more to explain this -- maybe like a "no honor among thieves" sort of thing, or the fact that he had contacts, could get Tegen free -- then I could see Digger complying. A long-time partner's life in exchange for a few hidden secrets of random people that are nice to her? Yeah, that seems about right. But professional reputation versus spying on really awesome, nice people? Yeah, it doesn't really cut it.
So that really got on my nerves quite a bit. The whole Werne (Lord Inquisitor) being her brother thing should have been a shocker to me, but maybe wasn't because the book felt too long -- and maybe the climaxes shouldn't have been spaced so close to one another? I kept waiting for what was going on with Lord Daul, and I was a bit disappointed that he wasn't, underneath it all, a good person, but was just as creepy as he seemed. But after you find out what happened with Lord Daul, it was just sort of over for me. And I really don't understand how Wierolf could have come back to the castle. Wasn't he already on his way with Merista and the jolly band of magicians?? Why did he suddenly appear all of a sudden on the roof just when Digger is about to be bashed in the head by Werne?? Or maybe I missed something? (hide spoiler)]
However, in all, it was quite a good book. Engrossing to read, and nobody was annoying enough that I had to throw away the book or stab myself in the eyes. I did notice that the author does enjoy writing complicated plots, and while she's not bad at it, I think either the pacing, or maybe the order of the grandness of the climaxes aren't prioritized right or something. Because I find that once you find out what you want, then the book is sort of over, at least for me.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This novella is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. I think the blurb does a terrible job and misleads the audiI am wavering hard on a 2-star or a 3-star.
This novella is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. I think the blurb does a terrible job and misleads the audience into thinking that the main character somehow replaces Sleeping Beauty. You go into the novella thinking that's what's going to happen. It doesn't happen that way.
This book was really well written and it does a credible job of having you feel sorry for the main character. But honestly, she was written to be so grotesque that it was a bit hard to like her or be able to step into her shoes. Also, she was kind of slutty. All right, she missed having relations and no one wanted to marry her, etc. But honestly, I feel that the low rating probably is due to this fact -- that she kept picking out these bottom of the barrel people to sleep with, just because she had "needs." Also, she propositioned the smithy even when he was fine with having delayed monetary payment. So, yeah, she kind of came off as being easy.
I think the book wavers between an "adult" book and a YA book, and that's why the rating is sort of low -- there's no specific audience this book can be written for. It's not erotic enough to be erotica. It was well-written, but the main character was not likable enough to win over on its own merits.
But it was well-written, and the plot was interesting. It's too bad that I really found the heroine and the love interest sort of bland and uninteresting....more
I am rather a fan of all the one-star reviews of this book, as they are so descriptive that I don't feel that I have much to offer. All they say is trI am rather a fan of all the one-star reviews of this book, as they are so descriptive that I don't feel that I have much to offer. All they say is true:
(1) Emo-boy Henry as Hades. Seriously, he is a less interesting version of Heathcliffe. His emotional ups and downs are apparently supposed to be attractive, as his "goodness" under it all. Right. I read little whiny weakling who would rather give up than cause people harm. Is this what passes for a god in YA lit now?
(2) Ridiculous "friendships." I'm not sure how or why Kate felt compelled to sacrifice herself for Ava. It felt absolutely ridiculous. I have no other words for it. Ava is this annoying cheerleader girl who tries to fake-befriend Kate and then leave her in the woods so that Kate would leave Ava's womanizing hot footballer boyfriend alone. Then Ava dives into the river to get away and then smacks her head on a rock and dies. Kate saves her the first time. She really is not compelled to "save" her a second time. This sort of sacrifice for total strangers is bizarre. Ava is ridiculous, as she would endanger her life and the life of another girl for her boyfriend and then dumps her boyfriend the day after? They are then somehow bestest friends in the Underworld (or the Mansion, as apparently the Underworld is now called), and Kate has her trotting alongside her everywhere she goes? Seriously? Is there no one else in Kate's life that's DEAD that she would rather see than a girl she's met 3 times?
(3) Ridiculous exchange to see her mom. So...Kate sacrifices herself to be with Henry in order to save Ava, since she felt guilty that it was her who caused Ava to be saved the FIRST time Ava killed herself by diving into a rock but then subsequently died because her time was up. So she would sacrifice the REMAINING TIME SHE HAS TO SPEND AT HER MOTHER'S DEATHBED to save a random stranger??? Yeah, that makes SO much sense. This was such a ridiculous exchange that I have no words. None. Her mom gets sent into the emergency room, and her priority is to SAVE THE NEW B-GIRL SHE MET?? How is this kind and self-sacrificing? It's stupid! And she doesn't even save Ava! Nor does she save her mom, she just gets to "meet" her in her dreams and the two act out these conversations that take place in whimsical places that's supposed to be real because Henry asks, "do they FEEL fake?"
(4+) I'm too tired to go into the rest. Other reviewers have already gone into it. I'm with them completely. Retarded tests, stupid characters with stupid names. Henry's the name for a dog, not for Hades, black god of the underworld. It's all been said. Read the book if you're still interested, but if you read the other reviews, it's about the same....more
I was so in awe by the book trailer (apparently the author is really talented) that I could not wait to read this book. But then... it all fell apart.I was so in awe by the book trailer (apparently the author is really talented) that I could not wait to read this book. But then... it all fell apart. FYI, this was a DNF, but I'll tell you why.
First, the blurb makes no sense at all. It makes it seem like Ai Ling is unwanted, possibly an orphan, maybe crippled (so she's useless and unbetrothed). But she's NOT. She's apparently attractive enough to get a marriage proposal (albeit from a really gross old man). And she's the ONLY child and the parents clearly LOVE her. So it's setting you up to anticipate some drama that makes no sense.
Right at the beginning, the setting is not done as completely as Eon, but that's fine. The author's prose isn't weighed down by page-engulfing paragraphs of descriptions. You're not completely within the scenery, but that's fine since my imagination works well, so it can fill in the blanks. The story comes to a point very early on where the main girl has to run away in order to apparently find her dad so that they can pay the creditor. Obviously her mom is useless (being a female, apparently). Her dad has disappeared. All this I can accept. What I can't accept is that this girl, whose days consist of calligraphy and maybe bargaining with local merchants, suddenly decides to run away?!? HOW was there even momentum?? I mean, she is not some poor girl who was brought up like a cast-off, and made to do servants' work. She sat, day-to-day doing embroidery and calligraphy, just WAITING to get married. So already because of the blurb and the trailer, I'm thinking, "No one wanted Ai Ling?" Everyone wants Ai Ling, is what it seems like! And there wasn't even sufficient time for Ai Ling to be dishonored -- she sneaks off in the middle of the night, leaving her mother helpless and alone (and without servants, b/c they had to let them go). Already, I'm thinking, what was the author thinking to approve the blurb and the trailer?
Okay, that's fine. So she runs off. She's walking, walking, walking along. Unbeknownst to a lot of people, Chinese women's feet binding was only a small part of history, so luckily she's able to make it far. But she collapses at the edge of a river, in the middle of NOWHERE, might I add, and then a good-hearted, good-looking mixed-breed dude FINDS her??? RIDICULOUS. Absolutely RIDICULOUS. I mean, we ARE assuming this is in the middle of nowhere, right? And it just so happens that there's an instantaneous spark or rapport between them.
At this point, I couldn't read on. TERRIBLE. ...more
I don't exactly know what it was about this book that I couldn't get into. Maybe because I don't like reading Asianized literature. Weird, I know, sinI don't exactly know what it was about this book that I couldn't get into. Maybe because I don't like reading Asianized literature. Weird, I know, since I am Asian. I was looking for this genre of books and stumbled on this one off Cindy Pon's Silver Phoenix. The setting was done a lot better than Silver Phoenix (surprising, since Cindy Pon is Asian, but I find that usually it's like this). I don't know why, but I expected the book to be shorter, and it was incredibly long and I think I was sick and sort of headachey, so that cast a shadow over my opinion of the book.
Basically it was way too long, and not in the sense of plot. Okay, I do tend to skim books when I find that it's not moving fast enough for me, but then this book is written for YA audiences, and they surely have less patience than I do, since I specifically got the Kindle version (which is not as easy to skim ahead as a real book, alas). The beginning was a lot better -- sort of depressing, but at the very least, you now know that this downtrodden girl has some hope, right? But then she got to the palace and then.... what? I can't even remember. I just kept skimming ahead to find out what was going on, and there were all these other characters, and there was her getting used to living at the palace, bathing or whatever, but none of it seemed really relevant. And it WASN'T that relevant because then I skipped ahead to the end, and it didn't feel like I needed to know those things.
I think it might also have to do with the writing style; it wasn't tight or succinct enough for me, and parts of it felt heavy, like I couldn't completely see what it was that the author was describing. And obviously a lot of it was irrelevant, sort of as though the author did a bunch of research and then felt she had to put it in in order not to waste it. I understand that sentiment, but unfortunately, unless the book is under 200 pages, people don't want to spend the time going into it.
The ending was sort of unexpected, because you feel sympathy for the bad guy, and it's at this point (where he reveals some semblance of humanity) that you find him sort of hot. I wonder if that's brought in too late, and too quickly, because that's over in a matter of seconds.
Not my favorite. I won't be reading the second one. I mean, I usually don't read sequels now since there are so many books I want to read, but I wasn't even able to completely finish this one. ...more
This book was really awesome. It grabbed me from the beginning and I just had to find out what was going to happen, and there were a lot of tWow. WOW.
This book was really awesome. It grabbed me from the beginning and I just had to find out what was going to happen, and there were a lot of things -- court intrigue, adventure, civil war, mystery, romance, love (the kind between family), and growing up. Okay, to be fair, there are some (not a lot) of YA books that I'm incredibly impressed by when I finish that I'm floating on a book-high afterwards, but later, I realize it's not THAT great (sorry, Hunger Games was kind of in this category). However, I have to admit that in the genre of YA, these books are already like freaking awesome, since a vast majority of YA books are CRAP. I mean complete and utter crap. Most get a DNF by me because I find the main character ridiculous, giggly (look, if I wanted to be in contact with a giggly person, I would...no, I never want to be in any sort of contact with a giggly, silly girl), and her actions completely random, incoherent, and just downright bizarre. So, this book would rate a 4.5 -- at this point, I would say this book has more classic-potential than Hunger Games, and was a lot more touching.
Okay, spoilers ahead. (view spoiler)[ Basically, you find out early on that Seraphina is the product of an illegal marriage between a shape-shifting dragon (her mom) and her dad (a high-ranking court lawyer). This would create problems, no? It creates problems in more than one sense. The country of Goredd has a peace treaty with the dragons, but things are tense, and people are pretty much dragon-phobic. There are strict regulations on dragons living in Goredd, but they are despised by the general populace, or feared. Things are tense, especially so when Prince Rufus is killed mysteriously. At the very beginning, when a mob corners a young dragon in the city center, it's obvious that things are not going well. Imagine that basically the US is negotiating a peace treaty with the terrorists, they're walking around on the streets but not being completely able to blend in for whatever reason, and then some terrorist is cornered and beaten up in the city center. Not good for the peace treaty, right?
Seraphina doesn't want to get involved (basically she's been taught not to by her dad very early on), but because of things beyond her control and basically because of her devotion to Orma, who's her uncle and has basically been her dad, mentor, only friend, she's somehow brought into the attention of some people. And of course her extreme talent in music. She has a job at court and lives at the palace, so of course she's in contact with a lot of the royalty.
There are other things, such as the people in the headache/seizure inducing visions she gets, and what they mean when she starts seeing them in real life. There's her attraction to Prince Lucian Kiggs, the illegitimate cousin and fiance of the heir to the throne. There's the cursed family history, in which her dad has completely excised her mom out of conversation, and where she learns that her mother was also disowned and chased out of the dragon kingdom. Of course she doesn't know her mom and resents her for putting her in a position where she's cursed with scales (and this in a world where people think dragons smell and are gross) on parts of her body. And there's her maternal grandfather who was a general and hates humans and her uncle, Orma, who adored (as much as he was able as a dragon) her mother and treats Seraphina like a daughter -- but never outright, since dragons are cool, scientific, and any emotional attachment is seen as weakness and immoral (think Spock). There's Seraphina's response when she realizes there are others like her in the world, the growing up she has to do when talking Kiggs about resenting moms for being impulsive and leaving this sort of infamy as a legacy to their kids.
There are so many things in the book that I could talk about (and I did, almost reciting parts of the book to other people). The author is insanely talented at world-building, because the characters, the segregation, the species are so fleshed out that I felt I could see and touch Orma. The book is full of emotion, love and on sorts of levels. There's the part where she realizes that her dad did truly love her mom, and that he was bewildered that though his wife the dragon took so many chances to leave her life to be with him, she never made the final step to confide in him, and that he had to find out for himself when she lay dying (think how sad and bewildering that would be!)
There's her unwilling attraction to Kiggs, who's a person in his own right. He was never described as attractive except when he was passionate about something. Their relationship is slow in building, and he's clueless (as men often are, if they're good and decent men and not a playboy) about his own emotions. They start off as friends, with him simply curious (as he is about everything) and her reluctant to build friendships. That part I genuinely thought was done so, so well. She didn't go out of her way to encounter him, and the book is NOT focused on their romance. It also didn't end with them being together, so if you're trying to find a fantasy romance, this is not one of those books. He's impulsive, inquisitive, and honestly, not my type of a guy at all, but he's real, because he's young and despite the things he's gone through, he also has things to learn. So it makes sense that he's not some hot-shot prodigy at like what, 23? That would be impossible.
(hide spoiler)] The writing hits incredibly close to home; it's not old-fashioned writing that keeps you skimming as you try to find the main points. The book is plot-driven, and Seraphina is a busy, busy girl, because she's gotta work for a living, as well as tend to "issues" at night. I read some other reviews complaining about how Seraphina doesn't seem to DO anything. This book unfolds slowly, so don't go into it with the expectation that everything will happen in 5 pages. It won't, because there are too many elements. It IS slow, but if you expect that, the book will be much better for you.
I think the best part of the book is that it's a really responsible YA book. At the end, Seraphina and Kiggs don't go tearing off into the night. First, Seraphina isn't that sort of a girl (Kiggs is actually more impulsive than she is). She does things, but mostly because she sees no other options, and yes, she has her own share of curiosity too, so she also gets pulled into situations. But this isn't a fantasy book in which she's always mooning after the prince and drooling how handsome he is, or how handsome that other noble is. GAG. At the beginning, she's just surviving, because she has to hide her deformities and she's trying to figure out why she gets seizure-inducing headaches. One of the reviewers says that Seraphina doesn't DO anything -- well, I don't think the reviewer gets headaches or even migraines. When you get these headaches, there's nothing you CAN do, but just curl up into a ball and hope they go away.
It is an acutely realistic fantasy. And it's not about dystopian themes. The ending feeling is one of strength, overcoming odds, and hope. Even though technically, nothing has changed (she still has deformities and now it's all out in the open so that she might actually be in more danger and Orma has to be sent away), she has overcome many of her fears, including a childhood one of heights, and the reader realizes -- she's growing up.
Wow. It's simply fantastic.
(As an aside, I just have to add that this book was recommended to me by Madame X. With all these inaccurate ratings on goodreads, it's hard to find a reviewer with whom you agree. I wasn't led wrong.)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
So, as I'm sure most people know, this book is a retelling of the Cinderella story. For what it was, and the fact that this was a free ebook self-postSo, as I'm sure most people know, this book is a retelling of the Cinderella story. For what it was, and the fact that this was a free ebook self-posted on the Internet, the caliber is top-notch. The reason that I think it didn't get very high reviews is because I think the content spans two genres that are not often mixed together for the mainstream, and further, it's not enough of either genre in order to attract solely that genre -- that is, it's porny, and it's about a cute fairy-tale. Basically, for those who want to read a cute and clean fairy-tale, this is not it. And those who want erotica, this is probably not hardcore enough.
Despite the erotica and the lack of cutesy-ness, this novella worked. It had a tight plot and good characterization. There were probably some loose ends floating around somewhere, but because this was also a romance, and the romance was done well, it all seemed to tie together. The Cinderella character is probably incredibly unattractive, heavily freckled, black-eyed, missing a pinky and has a twisted foot. But the book made that work. The Prince is supposed to be some manipulative, spoiled, selfish person (at least, he was drawn out like that at the beginning), but that also worked. (Well, he wasn't that spoiled, but I guess the manipulation came into play when he tried to force her family into giving her up, to the point of possibly arranging their death.) But it worked. I mean, the main Cinderella girl is a highly vindictive creature, who loves fiercely and protects what's hers. So the guy can't be a total wimp, and he wasn't. One thing that I think Bettie Sharpe does really well (at least from the 2 works I've read of hers) is that she creates highly attractive, strong males who can be soft. Controlled, as opposed to being a loose cannon. That's why it's attractive.
Also, it was creative to write about a scary witch Cinderella who had prostitutes for a step-family, and a prince that was manipulative, selfish, and spoiled. Because somehow, she made you sympathize with the Cinderella (and her vindictiveness) and like the prince (and his manipulativeness).
Frankly, I didn't particularly want to read this and for the first 40% of the book, the tone was incredibly pompous. It's definitely better than the mFrankly, I didn't particularly want to read this and for the first 40% of the book, the tone was incredibly pompous. It's definitely better than the movie, but since it was written in such a story-book way, the excessive description of the first sexual episode (that resulted in the main character being born) took me by surprise, and not a good kind of surprise. I thought it was unnecessary. And then it happened again later on, when one of the king's sons goes at it with a tavern maid. Again, unnecessary, especially when the overall tone was so storybook-ish. And it was a bit weird that a star would have the same expletive as humans on earth. Wouldn't its expletive have been more along the "blackhole!" line?
Also, the plot was predictable. The book is one of those that ties everything back together at the end -- which is a really clever sort of plot, but it was too predictable, probably because the character named Monday showed up too early in the book.
Other than that, it was ok. The pompous tone kind of grew on you and then you kind of miss it when it's over. But not that much. It did read fast, but was not captivating....more
So this is supposed to be a retelling of the polar bear fairy-tale, which I'm sure everyone who's browsing this book is familiar with, so I'm not evenSo this is supposed to be a retelling of the polar bear fairy-tale, which I'm sure everyone who's browsing this book is familiar with, so I'm not even going to go into it. I also read the East of the Moon, West of the Sun and the book East, so you might say I've now entered into the elite club that specializes in the polar fairy tale collection.
This book was not as bad as a lot of the reviews make it out to be. I thought it was a humorous and very contemporary take on the story, and I really don't think that the "birth control problem" that a lot of the other reviewers disliked was that big of a deal. (view spoiler)[ Basically, she was taking birth control and Bear "fixed" her problem without telling her. But he didn't know that she was purposefully taking it and had no idea that it was intentional, so he thought he was helping to fix her health. That's how I took it from what was written. And don't get me wrong, I am very against guys trying to force their children on women, rapists, etc. But I really don't think that was what happened here. Seriously. I think my bigger question is why on earth would she have been taking birth control? I mean, the girl is only 17 or 19 (I forget which) and she's been in the Artic her whole life, living with her father and his (much older) research assistants and other postdoctoral candidates. Why the heck would she have needed the birth control?? There was no talk of her getting on birth control at all, and how would she have gotten it? She wouldn't have been doing hanky-panky with the other research assistants as some were her dad's age, or the other guys -- that would have been gross. So, that is my problem with the script. Also, Bear said it pretty loud and clear that he expected children, so the author really should have put in somewhere something about her actively NOT wanting to have kids (understandable; she's a kid) and secretly getting on birth control to stop his impregnating scheme. So that was kind of out of the blue.
Other than that, I thought it was well done, especially the getting to the troll part -- very creative, and I like how that was done. And frankly, she had to be pregnant in order to give birth on troll land -- for the story and its ending to play out. So I can see why she had to be pregnant. And the going to Sedna and Father Forest and the North Wind, I liked all that. Some of the other reviewers were against all that and thought the beginning dragged out. I thought that was weird -- I mean, we were hardly into the first two chapters before the Bear shows up and by the fourth or fifth, they're already having a good time. So I don't know where the dragging out is. Unless they wanted MORE romance, but frankly the fairy isn't totally a "romance" fairy tale as it is a girl kicking butt in order to find her man -- not terribly heroic, but better than a girl waiting around for a man to come kicking butt to save her. And for once, this is a retelling that spends some time talking about trials she has to go through in order to reach him. Seriously, in the original fairy tale, that's where most of the action and narrative is.
So, if you're looking for pure romance, this is probably not the way to go. But the main character is pretty feisty and kick-butt, and the retelling is pretty creative and I for one enjoyed the description as she travelled from one climate to the next...and she travels through a lot. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Wow, you would think that a story like Beauty and the Beast couldn't be ruined. I mean, it has all the makings of a good tale -- a beautiful girl withWow, you would think that a story like Beauty and the Beast couldn't be ruined. I mean, it has all the makings of a good tale -- a beautiful girl with love for her father, a princely man in disguise who comes to regret his ruinous past, failed fortunes, etc. But Cameron Dokey really ruined this one. How? Er...let's just say her book should have been titled "Belle -- Mostly Before She Meets Beast" since she really doesn't meet the Beast until chapter 18. That's like WAY in the book. And then once she meets him, the book ends in three pages. (I'm exaggerating but only a little bit...like it might have ended in 5 pages.) There's nothing to how Beauty and Beast come to care for each other, how Beast reveals regret for his past actions (or how he came to be cursed), none of that. From how it's described, it's not even as though he were a real beast -- I mean, we just get that he has grisly long fingernails and copperish hair...maybe like a smithy or something. And of course since Belle can't look directly at him (I don't know, maybe something gets in her eye, this is never explained), we have no idea what he actually looks like. And the looking directly at him for 5 seconds is never explained.
Most of the book spends time talking about how UNbeautiful Belle (or Annabelle) is and how she wishes people would quit calling her Belle. YES, I GET THAT SHE IS AN UNATTRACTIVE FREAK, now can we get on with the rest of the story? But the thing was that she wasn't an unattractive freak. She was just not as beautiful as her two sisters, who were apparently medieval models. Was there anything in her meeting the Beast that helped with her character development or self-esteem issues? Nothing. In fact, there's just a weird little side story with the something Wood of the Woods (I have completely forgotten what it was called, which is sad since the author spent so much time, and some in italics talking about this Wood). Basically Belle is a wood-carver and can "see" the inner spirit of the "wood." And something something about the Wood of the Woods, which was formed when this man lost the wife that he loved and his sadness and her love formed a tree that was sacred and never broke itself off to anyone except when Belle's father just happened to be walking underneath. And how did the Beast come to be guarding that tree??? I think it was explained but it just made no sense at all. OMG, I have collected all of this author's books before reading and now I've finally read one, it is the crappiest fairy-tale retelling I have ever read that I want to stab myself in the eyes.
Now that I go back to look at the other reviews, basically a lot of reviewers are saying that this book didn't "wow" them but they are giving this book 4 stars. What the heck is up with that?? I'm sorry, I thought this book sucked some major @$$.
This book is supposed to be a mixture of the 12 Dancing Princesses, the Princess and the Frog, and some vampire folklore all tied together. Somehow itThis book is supposed to be a mixture of the 12 Dancing Princesses, the Princess and the Frog, and some vampire folklore all tied together. Somehow it was also a bit Pride and Prejudice (probably b/c of the number of sisters involved).
This book was just ok for me, probably because I wasn't convinced at all of the reason that they were dancing in the forest in the first place. The main girl is supposed to be this level-headed, business-like, does not care about her appearance, bookish second daughter, but it doesn't really convince me as to why they were doing the monthly dancing ritual, since they all had to participate in order to get through the magic "gateway." I guess the whole thing wasn't magical or entertaining enough for me, since I was convinced about the main character, who was supposed to be strong and just ended up being kind of wishy-washy. Like, what was the deal with the cousin taking over? If she's so strong, how is she letting that happen? As to that, I would believe it more if there were more cultural mores thrown into the mix, such as, women were not supposed to be in charge, etc. etc. Instead it is the cousin who is saying all of this, and you just got the feeling he was a controlling male chauvinist pig who didn't reflect the cultural norms but was going psychotic on the village. It was just on and on and on with the main girl and her cousin going back and forth about the house, the village, the family business, and cutting down the forest. And seriously, how is a cousin supposed to enforce control over a family of girls and can just set a guard on them in their room at night??? Really not believing that too much. Also, prior to that, if the reputation of the girls were at stake, then why is the cousin allowing two other men to constantly be at their house and living among them???
I guess it was interesting, but b/c of the rating, I was expecting something extraordinary, and it was definitely not that. But more often than not, I am getting the better books from ratings around 3.6 and not 4, and DEFINITELY not over 4, b/c those were just given by teenyboppers who faint with desire at the mere mention of vampires. See that? Another group of girls just fainted. Vampires!! See that? Again with the fainting....more
Read a lot of reviews before I started reading. It started out really well, with illegitimate Corie (Coriel) at age 14, who spends her summers at theRead a lot of reviews before I started reading. It started out really well, with illegitimate Corie (Coriel) at age 14, who spends her summers at the Castle b/c of her father, since the royal family only marries Halsing women. I didn't agree with some of the other reviews stating that Corie shouldn't have liked Bryan so much since he was such an @$$. I've never experienced it myself, but I'm sure impressionable young women probably liked boys just because they were out of their league, gorgeous, and liked by every other girl. I didn't think the worse of her for it.
She did bore me with her idealism and her inability to grow up. But that's a bit unfair as well, since she's about 17-18 when the book ends. The plot was very predictable, a la Sherwood Smith style, but the writing is MUCH better. [Spoiler] You see miles away that the aliora will be freed, that she ends up with Kent, and that Elisandra ends up with Roderick. That last bit could have been built up, but we don't see any of that, which is disappointing, since those two are the best characters.
I thought it was also a bit tiresome and annoying that we have yet ANOTHER character who's beloved and makes friends up and down the castle stairs. Really, again? And yet this person is going to be the queen??? I just don't buy that. I don't see her as a queen. Kent, I can see being a good king, but I definitely don't see Corie as the queen. Furthermore, she's set the aliora free, which represents a significant investment on the part of the nobles. I don't see how anyone would support her as the queen after that (aside from Kent, that is). I didn't think that was that believable, but just a way to tie up the story.
The best two characters were Elisandra and Roderick. Roderick is awesome. I know Kent is supposed to grow on you, but instead it's Roderick that really takes the show. He's mature, he's ambitious, he's considerate, he's really easy to love -- and yet he's not forced down your throat, so you like him better. And it's sort of even better that he kind of keeps his emotions in check. You're sort of kept wondering if he likes Corie (of course), but I like it better that he didn't.
And I am surprised at how it ends with Elisandra killing Bryan. Not that it's a surprise she kills him -- that was seen miles away. It's a surprise that Corie believes Kent right away when Kent comes up with his flimsy belief how Elisandra did it b/c "she had the most to lose." Really? Really? Like some of the nobles who would lose all their holdings didn't have more to lose? I am not really buying that. Also, although it makes Elisandra more likable, it also makes her slightly unstable, since she had NO reason to kill Bryan, and she didn't even have the personality (previously set out in the book).
All in all, it was nice light reading. Don't expect that you're going to get court intrigue and mystery, b/c it's not like that. This is written for maybe 9-13 y/o. It is VERY young reading. It's very safe to read; like I said, it reads a bit like Sherwood Smith, but not as stilted and irritating, with the author using the same grammatical structure and telling the reader what to think. Just wished it could have been more complicated, and the main character less toted as being popular. If so many readers are finding her annoying, it should be that her characteristics (stubborn naivete) would have made her annoying to people at Castle Auburn as well....more
Pros: Author has a good imagination and is able to create different worlds with incredibly picturesque creatures.
Cons: Characters are incredibly weak.Pros: Author has a good imagination and is able to create different worlds with incredibly picturesque creatures.
Cons: Characters are incredibly weak.
This is not a book where the end ties up all the premises in the beginning. This is simply an adventure book into a pre-created world (albeit very picturesque and descriptive) by which a normal, extremely poor girl (or so she thought) finds that she is the daughter of King Oberon (of the faeries) tries to find her half-brother and bring him back. Sort of like Hunger Games, wherein the main character tries to substitute herself for her sister, but in no way was this action in the Iron King as persuasive. You don't really get that she would do anything for her brother, and she's sort of weak to begin with, so that's even more unpersuasive. Also, she had a chance to "consider" her choices, so her going was just not very convincing. Am I getting the point across that her motivation was not convincing at all?
The likelihood of an alliance between Puck and Ash is also similarly unconvincing, especially since it is brought on by Meghan, the weakling. While, her weakness is probably realistic (I mean, how many of us would go stomping into worlds with which we're not familiar?), it is not conducive in a character that gets embroiled in all sorts of adventures. Seriously, if you're going to be cowering all the time, the "sudden" courage to do things is not really very convincing.
Also, the fact that Puck would throw everything away to help her...I'm not understanding why Puck really likes her in the first place. Also, she won't leave Ash, but will leave Puck, the boy she grew up with, when he's passed out cold? Yeah, real nice.
Apparently, this is the first in the series and the lowest rated one, so I might give the others a go, since they're rated quite high, but this first one did not convince me as to the validity of their quest, the characters did not stand out (except for Puck), there's no reason why Grimalkin would tag along for the ride. None of the characters' motivations really go together with their pre-established characters, and it just seems like they were forced together for the sake of this book. Meghan's obsession with Ash, the "terrible and beautiful boy," is a bit gag-worthy. I mean, we get that she's a normal girl who had a crush on some stupid, brainless jock. I guess she's just too normal to be a kickass heroine. She definitely is not kickass or heroine-like. She's kind of a brainless person to whom things happen. I mean, over and over again, Puck or Grimalkin warn her to not do things, and she still does them anyway (brainless). She's drawn to a creepy boy who wants to kill her. She forgets about her childhood friend so she can be with the creepy boy. She makes crappy, death-bringing bargains even though people warn her not to. If I were Oberon, I would have drowned her first.
However, the writing is not overly wordy and terrible, and was convincing enough for me to want to read the whole thing. However, characters were crappy -- I'm convinced that everyone gushing over Ash are into the whole teeny-bopper emo thing, or whatever is the current fad. Puck is probably the only likable character, but he's not in half the book....more
Maybe I've been browsing through too many crappy books. I went through 4 DNF books until hitting this one, and it was enthralling from the first page.Maybe I've been browsing through too many crappy books. I went through 4 DNF books until hitting this one, and it was enthralling from the first page. Some things that I have to say:
(1) Author's got imagination. The whole thing with teeth? Brilliant. (2) Author's got a way of telling a story. The whole thing started with "Once upon a time, an angel and a demon fell in love. It did not end well." I thought the main character would be the product of that union or something. Anyway, creatively done. (3) I am a fan of how the author slowly lets the reader into the story. It is not too verbose, the main character is NOT annoying (why are there so many main characters with low self-esteem that hate on other people?), and the main point of the fantasy is not the love connection. If anything, the love connection was not very convincing. While I can accept that the main character is startlingly beautiful, can I at least have a male protagonist who is not also beyond male model out-of-this-world beautiful? PLEASE. The romance is not convincing because there was no real reason for Akiva to start following Karou around. It just seems like a meeting of two models...of course they're going to catch one another's interest, being the only one of two incredibly gorgeous people stalking the same dimension of opposite gender.
But other than that, this was quite a change from some of the other books that I've run across recently. (Due to the internet, apparently it's true that ANYONE can be published. And a lot of them shouldn't be.)...more
I don't know if it's the version I got, but I couldn't be sure if some of the typos were from the author or the editor...especially since a large partI don't know if it's the version I got, but I couldn't be sure if some of the typos were from the author or the editor...especially since a large part of the book had "AUsjewrndg" because of the language of some of the characters. As in the characters spoke in another language that the author wrote out in random alphabetical arrangement.
This book was supposed to be a retelling of Snow White, but it took me forever to be able to connect it. The set-up took WAY too long a time; the author changed a ton of things in the formula. Maybe other people liked it? I don't know that it worked for me. The singing was an interesting touch to the book, creative to use in a book. But it might actually work better as a movie. ...more
This book is a fairy tale, and although it was written in 1980 or 1984, it is written so well that even to this day, when I pick it up and flip througThis book is a fairy tale, and although it was written in 1980 or 1984, it is written so well that even to this day, when I pick it up and flip through it, it is still just as appealing and endearing.
Princess Amy (actually Amethyst Alexandra etc. etc. etc.) was born a perfect princess, being golden-haired and blue-eyed, well-behaved and proper, but one of her fairy godmothers decided to grant her the ability to be ordinary. All of a sudden, her hair turns brown and mousy, her nose turns up, and she starts sprouting freckles and bawls in her baby basket.
Through the years, she watches as her six older beautiful proper sisters grow up to be married to handsome and stuffy princes and she thinks to herself that she's quite thankful she gets to have the fun that they don't have -- frolicking in the forest, playing with rabbits and deer, climbing trees and wading in the creek -- all activities that a proper princess couldn't. When her parents decide to send for a dragon so that the vanquisher would be compelled to marry her, Amy runs off to the forest.
She lives there for quite a bit until she realizes her clothing couldn't last forever, and then she makes her way to a nearby town to work as a kitchen maid in the castle, saving her wages until she can have enough for a new gown and leave the town for the forest again. She then meets Perry, a very nice man-of-all-work about the castle, and they have a wonderful time of it, until one day she is outed by her old nurse, who happened to be in the forest looking after some children. Perry, of course, scolds her for not telling him.
Then things get busy at the castle, and Amy gets fired for breaking four plates. She's understandably upset, as she hadn't saved nearly enough money, and then Perry shows up. In the midst of comforting her, he is then suddenly outed by a very grand councillor, who bows low to him, revealing that Perry. was, in fact, the king of the castle who Amy had never before seen.
It's quite a short, sweet fairy tale, and the illustrations by M.M.Kaye are beautiful. Since it's probably out of print now, I wanted to write the entirety of the synopsis out, because it's such a beautiful, simple story, and the words Kaye uses are simple but not at all lacking in effect. It's a definite keeper....more
This book got so many good reviews on here and Amazon that I decided to give it a go. It was good and I enjoyed it, but it wasn't THAT great. I guessThis book got so many good reviews on here and Amazon that I decided to give it a go. It was good and I enjoyed it, but it wasn't THAT great. I guess it's because most of the YA books that I enjoy are sort of funny, but this one doesn't contain any funny moments. I think there was only 1 sentence in the entire book that was funny.
Whatever the case, the book is quite action-packed. I enjoyed the parts about the poison. I had my own suspicion about the Butterfly's Dust (that she was going to turn out not to be actually poisoned after all). I'm not really sure about the romance between Yelena and Valek. Yelena's a pretty cool person (despite her lack of humor and self-esteem), and I admire that she's a survivor and keeps her mouth shut. She's just not that likable. She's sort of boring, aside from the things that happen to her. As for Valek liking her, it's kind of unbelievable and you never see any sign of it, so when they get together at the end, it's weird. And why would she like Valek anyway, knowing he's an assassin and killed all these people and may even kill her? Is it the Stockholm syndrome?
Also, the whole military state is kind of weird, since Valek works for the Commander and is VERY loyal to the Commander -- yet he's disobeying the law and killing and he's allowed to remain alive? That doesn't make sense. (In the book, anyone who kills no matter if accidental or self-defense, is sentenced to die. Therefore a father that accidentally allows his child to die is sentenced to hang.) So how come Valek is allowed to kill all these people and Yelena has to be exiled/killed because she's magical (magic is also outlawed)? Didn't really make sense there.
However, the book is action-packed, and you get to see all these people trying to kill Yelena, and her realizing her own power, etc. Pretty exciting stuff. Might actually have been better if there wasn't that romance thing with Valek and left it to future books where their relationship is more developed. Felt a bit contrived....more
Vivian Vande Velde is one of those writers of old who can create a fantasy world and give you believable, interesting characters in only a few pages.Vivian Vande Velde is one of those writers of old who can create a fantasy world and give you believable, interesting characters in only a few pages. A lost art.
(1) She does YA romance in a way that YA romance has ceased to be, without the gushing of instalove (yes, it's a thing now), without the constant fixation on outward appearance, and without the need for definite, I-love-you, you-love-me HEA.
(2) She does the biggest paranormal romance plots and offers in three simple, satisfying books. Shapeshifting dragons - Dragon's Bait. Time travel & shapeshifter - A Well-Timed Enchantment. Vampire love - Companions of the Night She doesn't attempt to capitalize on these plots and just gives it to you straight. Stand-alone books. Gotta love 'em.
(3) I am a huge fan of her endings. I'm going to only focus on the endings of these three, because they follow a format that is commonly seen in PNR nowadays but with a lot more class. The endings are classy, mysterious, and leaves room for speculation. I know people don't like these sorts of endings anymore, because everything has to be talked to death and figured out before the last page of the book. (I put this down to the change of times. Black and white movies also reflect a mysticism in endings. A lack of the need for words to let the audience know what's there. But some of the newer movies out there recently have shown a reversal of times, so there's still hope.)
(4) I miss the teenage characters of old. The teenage female protagonists of old. I don't know if it's due to a change in the profile of writers, but it seems that there are a lot of boy-crazy protagonists out there. Fair enough. Girls are boy-crazy. It's called puberty. But is there nothing to them other than this? Does nothing else weigh on their minds? I don't believe that's true. Girls worry about all sorts of random, crazy things, things like their dads not liking their jobs, their parents getting a divorce, how sad they'll be if their parents died, what to do after graduation, the economy, worrying about why there's nothing to worry about. Girls think too much. This is true. There are tons of blogs, and the biggest theme is "girls think too much," and yet we don't see this in YA literature anymore. That's sad. In a Well-Timed Enchantment, the teenage protagonist thinks about the time before their parents split up, she thinks about what to say after the time to say it has passed, she doesn't know how to problem-solve and is best at crossing her fingers and hoping for the best. All this is real. It's immature. It's sweet and endearing. It's not a life filled with a giggle a minute and a sideway glance at the HAWT boy who you think is looking at you. (Wise up, little girl, he's looking at you because you're looking at him. Stop being full of yourself.)
About This Book So I guess I should eventually get to talking about this book. Unlike A Well-Timed Enchantment, which was enchanting in its realness and humor, this book opens up with Alys, who apprentices with her father, a tin-maker, because he has no sons. He's also ailing, and the wheelwright next door has been eyeing their shop for his own expansion. Pretty soon, Alys is accused and framed of witchcraft in a cursory trial before the town by the wheelwright and an Inquisitor that travels between several towns. Before the trial is over, her ailing father has died of a heart attack, and she's dragged off to be sacrificed to the regional dragon to appease him.
Tied up to the stake, with it beginning to rain, you feel her utter depression and anger. Even when she manages to break free, she hears wolves crying in the distance and sees the dragon flying closer. And most importantly, she has nowhere else to go, not being a boy who could apprentice elsewhere. This is real. This isn't about a girl who suddenly manifests superpowers despite never having momentum and runs away and starts a new life somewhere in local small towns where everyone knows everyone else. So with the dragon circling overhead, Alys throws her future to the fates and hurls a rock at the dragon and yells for it to come eat her.
The dragon turns out to be Selendrile, a shapeshifter with long gold hair and purple eyes in human boy form. He learns of what has happened to Alys and then tells her that he can help her get revenge, because he's "fond of revenge." There's no instalove here; Alys is aware at all times that Selendrile isn't human and could eat her in one bite. There's no trust between them, since Selendrile tells her nothing at all and disappears at intervals.
Their revenge is planned out thus: frame the Inquisitor and then the wheelwright's family -- attack them where it hurts, their reputation in their business. The Inquisitor's revenge goes smoothly, despite feelings of mistrust. Then they head towards the wheelwright. But things go wrong.
I usually give all spoilers out, but the ending is such that I think this book really has both characters learning something of themselves. A book about friendship borne of small-mindedness and petty revenge. A little bit about the futility of revenge in how it doesn't bring back anything you've lost. Some about the lengths one has to go in order to really accomplish revenge. A book about trust between two loners who has lost the ability to trust others. All in all, it's a pretty darn good book as far as a simple YA novel goes. A little romance? Maybe. It's understated. But that's how I like it....more