Quick summary: An enjoyable fairy-tale style book about shapeshifters, a wicked sorceress, and following your conscience, aimed at young adults.
Long vQuick summary: An enjoyable fairy-tale style book about shapeshifters, a wicked sorceress, and following your conscience, aimed at young adults.
Long version: I'm a bit of a kid at heart. I love fairy-tale style stories, where magic is a real force and the idea that one doesn't have to be strong, but more often brave and clever. I suppose I never outgrew them. As such, I really enjoyed this book. The plot is well-conceived, though as an adult, one of the twists at the end wasn't much of a surprise to me. The book is written in a third-person limited POV, so the character we follow (Weiland) is very well fleshed-out. Unfortunately, the drawback of this approach is that the antagonist, Daria, is a bit one-dimensional. Because Weiland doesn't understand her motivations, the reader doesn't get as much insight as I would have liked (thus the 4 stars instead of 5). The book is suitably exciting, and did keep my interest up, so that I kept wanting to know what happened next. Overall, a quick and enjoyable read for tweens and up.
I rarely rate books as one star. Most books have enough to recommend them that, even if I didn't care for them, they deserve at least a couple of starI rarely rate books as one star. Most books have enough to recommend them that, even if I didn't care for them, they deserve at least a couple of stars. But the flaws in this book were so sufficient as to make finishing this a trial instead of an enjoyment. I like the concept of this series - the idea of a celestial court, where a soul condemned can file and appeal or ask for a retrial. It's a neat concept. And the fact that the main character, Brianna "Bree" Winston-Beufort, is a lawyer in the "temporal realm" as well means the potential for some interesting legal cases in the living world. Unfortunately, that potential isn't fulfilled in this book. The living people Bree is working for are mostly uninteresting, and lack complexity. The case that she tries to build for her deceased client is poorly-fleshed out - lacking in details, it loses much of its appeal. Add that to the unnecessary complication of dealing with a dead spirit rising from the grave to harry her, and this book is a mess. It gets bogged down in too many details of the wrong kinds of things (why would we care that Bree salts the egg, separates out the bacon, and then eats the black olives from her salad?).
Another issue is that the author throws in details that can't be correct. As a non-spoilery example: This book was published in 2009, and Bree is mentioned as being 29 years old. She goes to visit her family home, and goes up to her old room, which still contains some of her things. "Copies of her best-beloved childhood books were still there: Lad: A Dog; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy; and a whole slew of Anne of Green Gables." Philip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass, third book in the Dark Materials trilogy, was published in 2000. When the main character would have been 20. Hard to call that a best-beloved book of childhood.
The other huge issue is a spoiler: (view spoiler)[A very important plot point hinges on blood typing. Bree gets medical reports on three people, a couple and their child. The mother, Carrie-Alice, is noted as having type O- blood, and the father, Probert, is also noted as having type O-. The daughter, Lindsey, has type AB-. This is used as proof that the mother had an affair and that Lindsey isn't Probert's daughter. However, what this actually proves is that Lindsey is the child of neither Carrie-Alice nor Probert. A parent with type O blood can have a child with type A, type B, or type O, but never type AB. It's medically impossible, and something that is taught in high-school Biology courses. If an author is going to make blood typing such an important factor in the climax of the book, then she needs to do her dang research! (hide spoiler)]
So, for all of those reasons, I cannot recommend this book.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This was a very enjoyable start to a series. It is a fully self-contained story - all of the important plot points are wrapped up by the last page. ThThis was a very enjoyable start to a series. It is a fully self-contained story - all of the important plot points are wrapped up by the last page. The plot moves along well, and the world-building needed when introducing a new series was handled in a very natualistic manner.
Alex Craft is a strong female character. She's not terribly feminine, but she's also not a woman in name only. She's also a very human character, making occasionally foolish choices or mistakes, but ones that the reader can relate to. Further, while she is a powerful figure, her power has clearly-defined limits, and has some important drawbacks. This makes the overall world more balanced, and keeps the character of Alex interesting.
The plot revolves around a police case involving some ritual murders. Because the story is told from a first-person perspective, it is difficult for the reader to get too far ahead of the protagonist in determining who the culprit is. I found this to be a positive - third-person narratives too often point out clues that the protagonist should not have missed, and thus give less enjoyment as I wait for the characters to catch up with me.
One other important thing Ms. Price does well is setting up the next part of her series. As I mentioned before, the story of Grave Witch is fully self-contained. There's no lingering plot holes to be filled by further stories. But there are consequences from this story that will clearly carry over into future stories in the series. So, there is just enough to know that Alex Craft isn't nearly ready to have a "happily ever after", without preventing the actual story wrap-up.
So, overall, a 5 out of 5 for world-building, character development, and plot execution....more
This is probably one of the most exciting books in the Cadfael series. As with most of the books of this series, it is not necessary to have read theThis is probably one of the most exciting books in the Cadfael series. As with most of the books of this series, it is not necessary to have read the previous books to be able to follow the actions and interactions of the characters. The book opens with the peace of the monastery being disturbed during the evening prayers by a young man running in, pursued by the townsfolk. The man claims sanctuary, the right to be kept in the monastery for 40 days, and not turned over to the law. During these 40 days, Brother Cadfael begins to believe that the young man is not guilty of the crimes of murder and theft of which he has been accused. The tension in this book mount subtly but steadily, as the violence in the town continues, and the time of sanctuary steadily ticks away. All in all, an excellent read, and highly recommended....more