Beautiful words, beautiful stories, beautiful characters... you know, this is just one damn beautiful book. I am in awe of it. Can you fall in love w
Beautiful words, beautiful stories, beautiful characters... you know, this is just one damn beautiful book. I am in awe of it. Can you fall in love with a book? If so, I'm guilty. I don't mean to sound condescending to young adult readers (I am one) but this book simply does not deserve the readership that thought Twilight was the best book ever written.
Everything about the marketing and presentation of this book does not convey how truly wonderful it is. Firstly, though the cover illustration is a stunning work of art, I think it tends to immediately appeal to younger readers and rule out an older audience. It's pretty... but it looks like a children's book. Same with the title... it's cute, very cute and it's quite a subtle representation of what the book is about... but again, it sounds like a cutesy Twilight-style romance. Another thing it has in common with the saga is the genre it is categorised in: paranormal romance.
But to say that Twilight and Lips Touch: Three Times are both paranormal romances is like saying tin and platinum are both metals. It's in an entirely different league. And I almost didn't read this because I saw reviews saying the first story was just like Twilight. No, no, no. The very main difference between the two is that Laini Taylor remembers the basic principle of quality writing.
Let's look at Bella Swan for a second... after four books what do we know about her?
1) She's that girl who's in love with a vampire 2) She's that girl who's in love with Edward Cullen 3) She's that girl... um, that's about it.
In one paragraph of that first story called 'Goblin Fruit', that according to some is "just like Twilight", this is Kizzy:
"Kizzy wanted to be a woman who would dive off the prow of a sailboat into the sea, who would fall back in a tangle of sheets, laughing, and who could dance a tango, lazily stroke a leopard with her bare foot, freeze an enemy's blood with her eyes, make promises she couldn't possibly keep, and then shift the world to keep them. She wanted to write memoirs and autograph them at a tiny bookshop in Rome, with a line of admirers snaking down a pink-lit alley. She wanted to make love on a balcony, ruin someone, trade in esoteric knowledge, watch strangers as coolly as a cat. She wanted to be inscrutable, have a drink named after her, a love song written for her, and a handsome adventurer's small airplane, champagne-christened Kizzy, which would vanish one day in a windstorm in Arabia so that she would have to mount a rescue operation involving camels, and wear an indigo veil against the stinging sand, just like the nomads. Kizzy wanted."
YES. In just one paragraph, Laini Taylor has created a far more complex character than Stephenie Meyer ever managed. And let me just say, this book is hard to quote from because the entire thing is a quotable masterpiece, you can find something beautiful in every single paragraph on every single page. I actually took longer than it would normally take me to finish a 250 page young adult novel, and not because it was hard work, but because I would read a few sentences, think "wow", and go back and read it again. And again. My only fault with it is that I finished the last story and wanted to cry because there wasn't any more.
Who is this Laini Taylor who seems to have appeared out of nowhere all of a sudden with her extraordinary writing and her pink hair? I don't know but I do know I'll be getting my hands on her future work if I have to sell my soul in exchange (yeah, that was a bit melodramatic but I haven't come out of fairyland yet). Read this, spread the word. 'tis fantastic! ...more
I cannot fairly rate this book so I'm going to leave it as it is. I was originally attracted by the high ratings and positive reviews but I d No Rating
I cannot fairly rate this book so I'm going to leave it as it is. I was originally attracted by the high ratings and positive reviews but I discovered early on that, for whatever reason, this book simply isn't for me. I couldn't appreciate the story enough to read on and that is why I won't insult it by giving the kind of low rating I usually give to abandoned books. In this instance, it was definitely me and not the story or writing....more
Though I thought Tender Morsels was a fantastically-written and unbelievably well-imagined story, my first instinct is to throw my hands up in warnin
Though I thought Tender Morsels was a fantastically-written and unbelievably well-imagined story, my first instinct is to throw my hands up in warning at any teenager (or - in fact - any adult) who might come strolling along in search of just another typical fairytale retelling. Because that's what this is in it's barest form, it is a retelling of the Brothers Grimm's tale of Rose Red & Snow White: A Grimms Fairy Tale. And don't we all just love the call of the "dark" retellings? We imagine blood and gore and perhaps sex... what I don't think the majority of people imagine is incest, gory miscarriages, gang rapes and bestiality.
I kid you not... in just the first couple of chapters we are introduced to Liga - a girl who has been repeatedly raped by her father and then forced to drink some gut-churning concoctions in order to force the abortion of any pregnancies - and we see the absolute horrors of sexual abuse she has lived through that have made her the person she later becomes. A person who is so afraid that her fear manifests into a powerful magic which allows Liga to create for herself and her daughters - Branza and Urdda - a world separate from that of reality. A world where the three of them can hide in harmony.
But Liga's attempts to shield her daughters from the cruelty of the real world ultimately fail. Branza becomes a slave to the same fears that plagued her mother, and Urdda's wild curiosity gets the better of her. After time, the border starts to blur between the real world and this magical realm of Liga's imagination.
I was utterly enthralled by the story and by the strength of Ms Lanagan's characters. Above all else, she is undoubtedly a brilliant writer. But... THIS IS NOT A YOUNG ADULT BOOK. It just isn't. Never before have I read a book so wrongly categorised. Even if teens were ready to stomach this kind of brutality and blatant sexuality, I don't think the average teenager would appreciate this kind of story anyway.
There's a lot of dark, unhealthy sexual stuff going on in Tender Morsels. I don't mind sex in books, I don't mind lots of sex in books, but even I found it hard to stomach the repeated rapes, incest and bestiality. I honestly didn't know what to think when a girl gets a sexual thrill from having a bear lick her breast... this just takes perversity to a whole new level. And was that whole thing really necessary? Hmm?
Unlike most books that I rate highly, I refuse to recommend this to anyone in particular. It is too strange and gross and disturbing for me to be confident that anyone will like it. You will have to be quite the adventurous reader and you will have to be able to cringe and move on at some of the weirdest bits. But I doubt you'll be unaffected, that's for sure. Now I'm going to go ponder what it says about me that I was unmoved by Wonder and thought this dark, rapey novel was actually really good....more
Oh, rip my heart out, why don't you? This is such a horrifying and sad book that again makes me ask the question: just what on earth is going on in t
Oh, rip my heart out, why don't you? This is such a horrifying and sad book that again makes me ask the question: just what on earth is going on in the UK publishing world??? This book was released in the US as Plain Kate with a cover that features the protagonist walking along a rooftop with her cat. Though it doesn't exactly gear you up for some of the horrors this story contains, at least it doesn't look like a pretty, twinkly version of Ferngully: The Last Rainforest. What is up with that cover? That title? If I had come across this edition first, something along the lines of My Little Pony would have sprung to mind, this book looks like a nice fairytale for eight year old girls... but if I'd read something like this at eight I would have had nightmares for the next five years.
Don't get me wrong, I thought it was very good. The plot was different, fast-paced and interesting, the heroine is strong and likeable. And, as much as it was quite disturbing, I found the witch-burning, ears getting cut off and general gory bits to only glue me to the pages in awe and disgust. But, unlike other authors that employ numerous shock tactics in a desperate bid to hold their reader's attention, Erin Bow is actually a good writer. Plus, there's a few deeper messages about friendship, hope against the odds, and never giving up.
Oh, and there's a cat. A wonderful, lovable talking cat. And I adore cats. No seriously, it's pretty weird. You know those old women who live alone with about ten cats? I envy them. I'm at five so far and all it will take is a trip to one of those rescue centres. Furry companions make me happy. In fact, I've included one of my own... this is Willow, she thinks she's a princess and I'm perfectly happy to let her think that:
I know three stars isn't the most helpful rating in the world, but I just feel like parts of this book were worth at least four and other parts made
I know three stars isn't the most helpful rating in the world, but I just feel like parts of this book were worth at least four and other parts made me want to abandon it completely. It will suit a few people's tastes perfectly, I'm sure, but I wouldn't rush out to recommend it to the masses.
The story is based upon the old folk song "Scarborough Fair", a song I am very familiar with because my nanna used to sing it to me all the time. In it a series of impossible tasks are proposed by the listener's former lover, if the tasks are completed he will take her back. Impossible uses this idea in a modern setting, with the protagonist - Lucy - trying to break the curse that has plagued the women of her family for as long as anyone can remember. They are each destined to become pregnant at eighteen and, upon birth of the child who is always female, they succumb to madness. The only way this can be avoided is to perform the impossible tasks.
I thought the paranormal aspect of the novel was the weakest and I didn't care for it. You see all that I wrote about the story in the last paragraph? You can also read this in the goodreads description, on Amazon, on the back of the book... so why does the first hundred (and more) pages treat it like it's a mystery? I know there's got to be some time for the protagonist to discover what is going on but, because the reader already knows where the story is going, I could predict each chapter before it arrived and I was thinking of giving up early on.
For me, the curse should not be explained in the description, it sucks the enjoyment out of most of the first half (well, nearly) of the book. The novel's strength comes from the development of character relationships and how the people stand together to overcome this hardship. It makes me tempted to try out some of the author's realistic fiction - like The Rules of Survival - and just forget about her paranormal stuff....more
"I am confident, I am capable, and I will not wait to be rescued by a woodsman or a hunter. I will escape."
Hmm, this is a very difficult book to
"I am confident, I am capable, and I will not wait to be rescued by a woodsman or a hunter. I will escape."
Hmm, this is a very difficult book to rate. One one hand, it contains most of the elements I consider important in a good urban fantasy novel: tough heroines, nice love interest - but with the story focus being on bigger things than whether or not they'll get together, mean and nasty supernaturals, touch of grittiness... yet I still had a few problems. I thought Rosie was a very dull character for 95% of the novel, but the worst part was that the whole big "mystery" would be obvious to anyone with half a brain cell from page 50 onwards (especially if you read the blurb which gives everything away).
I find it actually quite odd that Jackson Pearce built it up as such a huge mystery, I was sure that there had to be some twist coming because, honestly, I am one of the densest readers out there and I saw it coming a mile off.
However, the story is very fast-paced and easy to read. The first 100 pages are just your standard fairytale retelling stuff, bit of background information that draws parallels between this story and the tale of Red Riding Hood, two sisters become hunters to avenge their grandmother's death and also to protect other girls from falling prey to the fenris. Things really start to get interesting after the 100 page marker when the girls move to the city and start hunting the bigger predators. There's a lot to be enjoyed in this book.
Perhaps the story's strongest aspect, for me, was the relationship between the two sisters. It was a strong, convincing bond that people only develop through sharing unspeakable and horrific experiences. But I found Scarlett - the older sister - to be the far better and interesting and just well-rounded character. After losing an eye and being left deformed in the attack that killed her grandma, Scarlett has become the scarred warrior. She is obsessed with hunting and revenge, she loves her sister and would go to extreme lengths to protect her, yet at the same time she holds a secret envy of her sister's beauty and her ability to have a normal life and boyfriend. She is the far more complex sister. Whereas Rosie is supposed to be the opposite, a romantic dreamer secretly longing for a normal life outside of hunting... I found her boring. That is, until she decided to turn out the best quote of the book (see top of review).
I was pleased to discover that the description's emphasis on the romance in the novel is not particularly reflective of the story itself. The romance is only a very small part of the plot with a male character who is kind and respectful, surprising seeing as Becca Fitzpatrick is quoted on the back of my copy.
So... this was a good book, not a great book, but I may read some more by this author in the future to see what else she cooks up. This is good if you're looking for some light - if slightly gory - entertainment....more
I put off reading The Snow Child because it wasn't something I would have chosen for myself without the extremely positive reviews of other goodreads I put off reading The Snow Child because it wasn't something I would have chosen for myself without the extremely positive reviews of other goodreads members. If it is not obvious to you from the description alone, then this book is not mostly plot-driven. It's charm is upheld by the characters, the relationships, and the sad, cold mood that seems to permeate the entire novel from open to close. It is the kind of novel that I sometimes have trouble with, the kind not concerned with action or drama, but more subdued and subtle. However, I was fortunate in that the characters held my attention throughout and the relationship between Mabel and Jack carried something simultaneously heart-warming and bittersweet that really spoke to me.
Mabel and Jack are an aging couple that have escaped from their previous reality into the Alaskan wilderness. They struggle to get by with Jack trying desperately to turn the old farm where they live into something that can support them through the harsh winters. But they are also struggling with something that runs much deeper: their childlessness and the memory of the stillborn baby that continues to drive them apart. I loved the relationship between the pair, the way they often felt distanced from one another but still relied on each other for support. It was heart-breaking to picture them sat at their table feeling the absence of a child and unable to discuss it.
There's something about this novel that is just plain sad. Even when nothing particularly sad seems to be happening. It's a tone that the story never shakes and perhaps it is something to do with the description of the freezing and isolated environment that made me feel like I should prepare to burst into tears at any second. I can't say for sure whether this book was supposed to be a lesson in how you cannot run away from your problems, or how bottling things up and shutting people out never works, but I can say that I took a little bit of all of this from the story.
Onto the snow child herself. It could have been an intentional move on the author's part, but I felt constantly distanced from her character; I felt perhaps she was a tool by which the main players' (Mabel and Jack) could be analysed and allowed to grow and develop. This is not so much a criticism as an observation. If you aren't aware of the basic plot outline, Mabel and Jack create a child out of the snow on a winter's night and discover the creation gone the next morning with a single trail of footsteps leading away from where it had stood. Then suddenly they start to spot a young girl roaming the woods, one who is identical to their snow sculpture and they see it as an opportunity to maybe finally have the child they always wanted.
I had been all set to give this book five stars, I really had. The writing is beautiful, the characters interesting, and the relationships touching... but the ending was disappointing. For me, it seemed like an unsatisfactory "is that it, then?" kind of ending that left me expecting some kind of twist from the epilogue that wasn't forthcoming. It wasn't enough to make me change my mind about the rest of the story and I would still highly recommend this book, but it was quite a large fault in an otherwise near-perfect novel....more
This is the story of an emotionally scarred girl who self harms to relieve some of the pain that comes with betrayal whilst on a journey across an AU This is the story of an emotionally scarred girl who self harms to relieve some of the pain that comes with betrayal whilst on a journey across an AU Japan in search of revenge. Oh yeah, and she also has the power to weave shadow illusions... you know that thing you saw out of the corner of your eye, that thing that isn't there when you look properly - probably a shadow weaver at work. What more could you possibly want from a story?
Okay, what you could possibly want is about fifty pages cut out of the second half, that bit of totally unnecessary meandering about that is done for no good reason I can see. But otherwise, this is a hardcore tale of revenge that doesn't really deserve the Cinderella comparisons. I know some people love a good Cinderella retelling but I never was the story's biggest fan. Come on, the bad people are ugly and the pretty people always win in the end? If a girl doesn't have itty bitty feet, then she can't marry the hot dude? Er, not for me. So Shadows on the Moon has a ball, a prince and a stepfather? So what? Suzume attends the ball for vengeance, has no interest in the prince and cares deeply for her stepbrothers. Suzume is way cooler than any Cinderella.
The book opens with the murder of Suzume's father and cousin (who is like a sister to her) because the family were wrongly accused of traitorous activity. Suzume and her mother are taken in by Lord Terayama and given a home - but is Terayama as kind as he seems? Or does he have more sinister intentions? Along the painful journey Suzume takes, she matures and grows a lot, having to become several different people along the way. From riches to slavery to the streets, Suzume learns the extent of her supernatural talents as she goes. And as her abilities strengthen, so does her desire for revenge against the one who took her happy existence away.
For me, this book is mainly about a girl filled with anger and sorrow and the way she deals with it. This was what I really liked. But I think some people - and I kind of agree - will find the final "revenge" somewhat anticlimactic. Perhaps don't read this after recently watching Ms Kiddo wreaking bloody havoc in Kill Bill. Also, the romance part of the story gets better as it goes along but it inarguably starts with nothing more than heated glances and unexplained feelings of being drawn towards the other. I understand this more from Suzume's point because Otieno was a foreigner and looked different, mysterious, etc. but I didn't really understand Otieno. It would be like me going to Japan and being mystified at the sight of - would you believe it - Japanese people!
Despite these few things, I really enjoyed it. I like a good revenge story and I think Asia or Asian-inspired settings are my new favourite....more
“There is no hell, John Temsland. Each man, when he dies, sees the landscape of his own soul.”
This book kind of stomped all over my heart. Not becau
“There is no hell, John Temsland. Each man, when he dies, sees the landscape of his own soul.”
This book kind of stomped all over my heart. Not because of the love story, which I don't consider a spoiler because anyone with a brain will see it coming from the beginning (Or the cover. Or the description.). But because of the beautiful, magical simplicity of the writing and the world and the characters. I love stories like this, that capture the timeless magic of fairy tales and make you feel like you're reading a story that is centuries old even when it clearly isn't.
The story is about a young woman called Keturah who loses her way in the woods. After days of wandering around and growing weaker and weaker, Lord Death eventually arrives for her. Keturah distracts Lord Death by telling him a love story, however, she cleverly withholds the ending and promises only to tell it to him if he allows her another day to live. One more condition is that, if she can find her true love in that time, he must let her live a full life. And so begins Keturah's mission to find her true love and postpone her date with death. Like all good fantasy, this mission introduces the reader to kings, magic spells, plagues and prophecies. I was mesmerised.
The writing has a beautiful tone to it that is hard to explain with a few simple quotes from the book. It's haunting, a little melancholy even, but this mood suits the setting and nature of the story perfectly. I think I need to be careful with my promises of kings and magic because this is not a wild and crazy tale filled with fast-paced action, it's a relatively quiet novel. But, that being said, it still managed to drag me in instantly and not let go. I think the subtlety of this story actually speaks volumes and carries the emotions better than any fast-paced action could.
An absolutely beautiful novel that was better than I'd ever anticipated. There is something about this last haunting piece of truth that gives me goosebumps:
“You, my lord, are the ending of all true stories.”
I've been highly anticipating this book since I learned of it's coming existence for no other reason The Crane Wife, quite simply, didn't work for me.
I've been highly anticipating this book since I learned of it's coming existence for no other reason than the fact that Patrick Ness wrote it. Ness is easily one of my favourite teen/YA writers and I find myself having to read everything he writes - even when he ventures out of his comfort zone and writes a novel for adults. Not only was I eager to jump back inside Ness's brilliant mind, but the promise of a retelling of an old Japanese folktale really called to me. My knowledge of Japanese myths and stories is limited, so I was sure the experience would be something unique and refreshing. And I suppose on some level it was.
The story is about George Duncan who is woken one night by a strange cry. Going outside, he discovers an injured Crane. George finds himself overcome with compassion and rushes to help the bird, removing an arrow from it's wing. The very next day, he meets Kumiko - a mysterious woman whom he falls in love with and together they create beautiful pieces of art. But George is dissatisfied with this existence and feels he needs to know more about the strange woman he loves. This desperation for knowledge is George's ultimate downfall; where the male character in the original story is ruined by his lust for money, it is George's need to know more that is his undoing.
It seems like I am being very harsh and critical to say that I think Ness should stick to his more subtle tales for young adults like A Monster Calls but I don't see it that way. The Crane Wife, though Ness's most ambitious work in terms of language and complexity, seemed somewhat pretentious and overly concerned with the reiteration of its own depth. Ness has evidently tried to take his writing a step further and play with language - but this story feels a lot more strained. The message in A Monster Calls was gentle, sad and powerful. The Crane Wife made me feel like I was being smacked repeatedly in the face with lessons in the philosophy of knowledge. So, yes, I do say that Ness should stick to more subtle tales or maybe he shouldn't write for adults - who knows? - but I don't mean this as a criticism. Ness is brilliant at handling poignant tales for children, whether it be about a boy with a dying mother or an adventure in a dystopian world, but his experiment in the different here was, in my opinion, a failure.
The Crane Wife really plays on the theme of knowledge and truths. I actually love and agree with the idea that the truth is not absolute but dependent on the person telling the story. I expect to see lovers of this book pulling up quotes like these:
"There were as many truths – overlapping, stewed together – as there were tellers. The truth mattered less than the story’s life. A story forgotten died. A story remembered not only lived, but grew."
"No one wanted to hear that people other than themselves might be complicated, that no one was ever just one thing, no history ever just one version."
But I come back to the lack of subtlety again. I feel like Ness keeps making this point again and again throughout the novel until I just wanted to be like "I get it! I swear, I get it!!" I don't know why Ness was so concerned with our ability to understand the message he was trying to put across when he's managed to weave them so gently and brilliantly into his young adult works.
Another thing I really didn't like was George. George is a nice guy, don't you know? Everyone loves George. George is a do-no-wrong, wonderful, women-treat-him-like-crap-cos-he's-such-a-sweetie type of guy. I can't stand that. For one, I can't stand unrealistically nice and good characters (whatever that male equivalent of Mary Sue is - I can't remember); for another, I hated the suggestion that there is something wrong with all the women who come into George's life for not appreciating him.
"a pleasant enough man, but lacking that certain something, that extra little ingredient to be truly worth investing in. It was a mistake women often seemed to make. He had more female friends, including his ex-wife, than any straight man he knew. The trouble was they’d all started out as lovers, before realising he was too amiable to take quite seriously. ‘You’re about sixty-five per cent,’ his ex-wife had said, as she left him.’ And I think seventy is probably my minimum.’ The trouble was, seventy per cent seemed to be every woman’s minimum."
George is that "friend zone" guy that all women adore but cannot be with for any length of time because they're too busy screwing bad guys. Why can't women just notice the nice guys standing in the wings, waiting to be awarded with sex and love for being such good friends? Ugh. This post is a fantastic discussion about the friend zone issue.
The Crane Wife isn't an awful book and, like I said, there were some beautifully written parts that I'm sure many will rush to quote. For me, though, I think I'm going to stay away from any future adult books by Ness and hope he delivers more of what he's good at. It's not an insult to say his power lies in younger books with simpler language; J.K. Rowling is no Proust but there are millions of children and adults around the world that will be forever grateful that she isn't....more
I'd been wondering why lately I've had such bad luck with books. Almost everything I picked up went back down again and more than half of what I readI'd been wondering why lately I've had such bad luck with books. Almost everything I picked up went back down again and more than half of what I read through and reviewed was a disappointment. After reading this first volume of the Fables series, it hit me all of a sudden - Tatiana. Or lack of Tatiana and her excellent book-recommending skills. Thanks for the rec, T, I knew you'd get it right ^_^
The Fables series has been one I've wanted to start since I first heard of it. Adult retellings of classic fairytales with a few touches of sex, violence and humour? SOLD! However, I talked myself out of it about a year ago when I foolishly picked up a random volume - nine, I believe - and didn't get it at all. Perhaps volume nine happens to be a bad apple in an otherwise excellent bunch, or perhaps that particular volume wasn't made to be read as a standalone (IMO, the first three can be enjoyed individually), whatever the reason, I found myself putting off a series which I'd previously been certain I'd love. I've learned my lesson and am now breezing through these fantastic volumes (I'll be starting number four soon) and becoming more and more addicted to the characters, the world and the humour.
Will you enjoy this? Personally, I think it depends on whether the humour is your cup of tea. I also don't believe it would be fair to sell this series as merely a comedy; each volume is very different, some are darker and gorier than others, some are primarily mysteries, others not so much. But the humour is behind it all and is what, for me, turns this into something more than a regular urban fantasy, fairytale retelling. It's what makes these characters memorable and there's not much I like more than a funny villain - everyone has a sense of humour here. I, for one, am finding it more and more funny with every installment I read.
Another thing is the artwork, which I like a lot in this series. The art has to receive a mention when you're reading a graphic novel because it inevitably affects how you read the story and how you view the characters. I tend to prefer realistic drawings, as opposed to arty, scrawly messes that are supposed to set some kind of tone. Give me this instead any day:
This first volume opens with the discovery of Rose Red's destroyed apartment. The place has been turned on its head and blood is splattered on every surface. Bigby Wolf and Snow White must investigate... can all that blood really be Rose Red's? Is she dead? Who would have a reason to hurt her? This first story is enjoyable and, in my opinion, they just keep getting better.
I just want to take this opportunity to also recommend the TV show Once Upon A Time. Originally, they were planning to make a show out of Fables but they modified it a bit and Once Upon A Time came out the other end. And it's a favourite of mine - you should check it out!...more
2 1/2 stars. Maybe my rating comes as a surprise or even - if you care - a disappointment, but let me assure you: no one is more surprised or disappoi2 1/2 stars. Maybe my rating comes as a surprise or even - if you care - a disappointment, but let me assure you: no one is more surprised or disappointed than I am.
I've had this book on my TBR ever since it appeared on Goodreads without a title, cover or description. I started reading it as soon as it became available and the array of positive reviews from my friends and strangers alike made me feel sure I would love it. But I didn't. It is possible I expected all the wrong things from A Court of Thorns and Roses, and maybe my review can prevent others from doing the same.
Here's what I expected: an intricate fantasy world, supernatural politics and alliances, fast-paced action, a sensual romance - perhaps similar to Cruel Beauty and other Beauty and the Beast retellings, and a flawed but likable heroine.
But this book is, if you ask me, nothing more or less than softcore erotica. Which is fine, if that's what you're looking for.
I personally thought that the fantasy aspect felt like trimmings around a story that was all about a romance between Feyre (the narrator) and Tamlin (a High Lord of the Fae). There are some titillating scenes where Tamlin bites Feyre's neck and they have sex - undoubtedly the best bits of the book and I won't pretend I didn't feel a little hot under the collar myself. But the "ancient wicked shadow" promised in the blurb is only really a source of more romantic angst for Feyre and Tamlin.
However, I *do* like a good romance as much as anyone, so there are other reasons this book didn't quite work for me. In order to express what I mean, I'm going to compare A Court of Thorns and Roses to Cruel Beauty, which is, in my opinion, a better book.
In CB, I felt the chemistry between Nyx and Ignifex as soon as their loaded banter started to fill the pages. They were sexy together, Ignifex was an evil ruler (which was a real problem for their relationship) with blood-red eyes, and the supernatural part of the book was creepy, weird and completely unique. Despite enjoying the actual non-PG scenes in A Court of Thorns and Roses, I never felt any real chemistry between Feyre and Tamlin or any realistic challenge to their relationship.
What makes Beauty and the Beast such a compelling romance? One that demands to be told over and over again in so many different ways? I'll tell you what it is: it's the obstacles, the challenges, the improbability... how can a young woman come to love an ugly beast? We ask. I'll prove it's possible! The author replies. That's why readers fall in love with the beast again and again, even when he is furry and has horns like the Disney version. I loved the Disney beast. (view spoiler)[And that badass fox in Robin Hood so it's possible I have issues. (hide spoiler)]
Tamlin is not a beast.
“Even as he bit out the words, I couldn’t ignore the sheer male beauty of that strong jaw, the richness of his golden-tan skin.”
Oh my, how could a poor young woman ever love a pretty-faced, golden-haired, completely not evil Fae prince? How weird.
Maas is a good writer and the beginning - before Feyre is taken to the Fae world - made me believe a great book was on the way. When Maas writes action, she writes action really well. But there was far too little of it in this book. It came in behind the descriptions of beautiful Fae men and the Fae palace.
In short: It just wasn't nasty enough. In truth, this felt more like an extended Cinderella retelling than what it was supposed to be. A girl lives in poverty and looks after her rather annoying sisters until one day she is swept up by a prince who takes her to his beautiful palace (after about three chapters). I just find it hard to recommend this when I think Cruel Beauty is similar and yet so much better.
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If the girl could only have spoken to the other boys and girls, the ones that had followed the golden-eyed boy before her, she would have known that
If the girl could only have spoken to the other boys and girls, the ones that had followed the golden-eyed boy before her, she would have known that there is always something left to lose.
This is a story you know - in a way. You remember how it goes, right? A boy called Peter appears to children and promises to take them to a better place, a place where they will never grow up and never get old. Of course we all know this story. But... what if it wasn't all that it seemed? What if Peter held back dark secrets about the place he takes the children? What if there was a more sinister reason those children never got to grow up?
What I find most surprising is that I never realised how creepy and frightening the basic premise of Peter Pan could be when twisted ever so slightly. Think about it. A mysterious boy of unknown origin creeps through the windows of children's bedrooms and lures them away in the middle of the night. Why was I never completely freaked out by this? Well, now I'm terrified.
The Child Thief is a lengthy, complex, but extremely compelling fantasy that weaves in elements of multiple folklore retellings, Arthurian mythology, historical fact and gorgeously creepy artwork. It should not be mistaken for a young adult novel, it's extremely graphic and disturbing in parts, but beautifully written and tinged with that inescapable sadness reminiscent of the original Peter Pan stories. It's at once a bloody horror story and a lesson in growing up - even the eponymous protagonist of the novel is simultaneously horrifying and endearing.
We are the lost, the wild, the untamable.
In this story, Peter seduces the children who are lost, abused and forgotten - the ones who have nothing left to lose and gladly follow the golden-eyed boy who makes enticing promises. At its core, this is a heartbreaking tale about the abandoned and unloved, and those who don't realise they're loved until it's too late. There are a lot of lessons floating around in this novel, plenty of philosophical musings on life and death. Those who believe this is vastly different from the original Peter Pan have clearly forgotten the darkness of Barrie's stories before the sugar-coated Disney version. I always remember the haunting line Peter says: "To die will be an awfully big adventure."
It is a wonderful retelling for old fans, but it also stands on its own as an intricately-woven fantasy world full of wonder and danger. The characters face multiple threats from faeries, witches, pixies, flesh eaters and - perhaps the most bloodthirsty creatures of all - humans. The ending was sad in the perfect kind of way. I love that Brom has managed to create a main character that is some parts monster and some parts hero, you will probably find yourself wondering at times which he is and deciding that he is in many ways both.
Given the powerful effect this novel had on me and the way that it is completely unlike anything I've ever read before, how could I not give it five stars?