Charles de Lint is my favorite author. Period. So I grabbed this without even looking at the bookflap and just plunged in. Do yourself a favor and doCharles de Lint is my favorite author. Period. So I grabbed this without even looking at the bookflap and just plunged in. Do yourself a favor and do the same thing. Without knowing anything about the book, the prologue is one of the best hooks I've read in a long time. But you can't know anything about the story beforehand. But, man, what a hook!
One of the things I love about de Lint is how his characters always have faith in something bigger than themselves, but that faith doesn't necessarily take the form of organized religion. He incorporates the best elements from many different religions and mythologies to build a story that most people can relate to. This book has a great love story, but the point is really to explore faith, grace, and having the courage to let go.
The biggest thing that I love about de Lint is his characters. Within a few pages, his characters feel like old friends. Grace is no exception. Tough, tattoo-covered, hot-rod building Grace is easy to pigeonhole. But there are many surprising sides to her personality, and she quickly became a character I won't forget. But what makes his characters stand out to me are the way they interact with each other and the world. They usually have some of their own serious issues, but they also generally seem to believe that, while they might not be able to single-handedly change the world, they can change their parts of it. They live to try to ease the way for others they encounter. They understand that life is hard enough without people beating each other down. We should build each other up. De Lint got all of that into this book too.
Most of my favorite books by this author are set in the fictional city of Newford, with some recurring characters throughout. I was initially a little disappointed that this wasn't a Newford book, and that I wouldn't get to check in on Jilly and Geordie and friends, but I quickly got over that. This still wasn't my very favorite book of his, but this was definitely one of my favorites.
In all honestly, the story was probably 4 stars. But the ideas behind the book are 5 stars. I love this guy, I loved this book, and I can't recommend either highly enough....more
Yelena is awaiting execution for the murder of an important official's son when she is dragged out of the dungeon in chains one day. Expecting to be hYelena is awaiting execution for the murder of an important official's son when she is dragged out of the dungeon in chains one day. Expecting to be hanged, she is surprised when she is taken to her country's spymaster and offered the choice between instant death or becoming the Commander's new food taster. As Yelena replies, she is not a fool.
I just loved Yelena. She is so smart, sarcastic, ever-hopeful, and talented in ways that even she doesn't realize. She's the biggest reason I rated this book five stars. So my question is, with all the kick-ass female characters out there for teen girls to read, why is whiny Bella the one that most seem to have latched onto? There's Yelena in this book, Katsa in Graceling, and Katniss in The Hunger Games. I'm sure there are more that I haven't found yet. I want to start hearing about a strong female with a life of her own for a change!
Anyway, I did have two minor complaints. The first was the font in my copy. It was alright, but the f's were too wide or something, so that when they were next to another tall letter, my eye tripped over the word and read a space where there wasn't supposed to be one. I wish I could show you what I actually mean. But this is how it sort of looked:
"Your drink was laced with a poison called Butterf ly's Dust. Mine wasn't. The only way to detect Butterf ly's Dust in a liquid is to gargle it."
The other thing I disliked was Valek's name. Oh, believe me when I say I liked Valek himself and hope that I get to read more about him in the sequel, but that name kills me. I know I'm probably at least a decade older than most readers of this book, but for that decade, my 401(k) stuff has been administered by a group called VALIC. You see my problem? VALIC is boring. I'm struggling a little with the name Valek.
Other than those two things, I loved the rest of the book. I already mentioned Yelena, but the other characters were great, the pacing was just right for me, and the twists the story took were believable and fun to read about.
This book wrapped up pretty nicely on it's own, but there is some set-up for the sequel. I can't wait to get my hands on it! I want to see what happens, of course, but there's just one little hint in this book about some characters we might get to meet in Magic Study, and they sound intriguing, to say the least.
I highly recommend this for a good fast-paced read with a great female character. I will add that I know this is marketed a lot toward young adults, and that's fine, but I personally would hesitate before handing it to a younger teen. There were just a few scenes that I probably wouldn't have minded at that age (let's be honest--I would probably have searched them out!), but, having read the book, I can't picture giving it to my younger cousin until she's about fifteen or so. But I will try to remember to hand it to her when she's that age. It was just so great!...more
This was amazing. There were parts that were hard to read, but overall, just unbelievable (in a good way). This is another book that I think everyoneThis was amazing. There were parts that were hard to read, but overall, just unbelievable (in a good way). This is another book that I think everyone should read, if only to gain some sort of insight into Middle Eastern culture....more
I would give it more stars if I could. I love the idea of this novel and I'm surprised that such a thought-provoking idea comes in a such a thin packaI would give it more stars if I could. I love the idea of this novel and I'm surprised that such a thought-provoking idea comes in a such a thin package....more
Just finished a re-read for my book club. I didn't fall quite as head-over-heels in love with these characters, but I stand by my 5-star rating. AbsolJust finished a re-read for my book club. I didn't fall quite as head-over-heels in love with these characters, but I stand by my 5-star rating. Absolutely wonderful book....more
My much-younger cousins introduced me to these. I don't actually remember reading them until I bought them for two little boys I know. So my husband aMy much-younger cousins introduced me to these. I don't actually remember reading them until I bought them for two little boys I know. So my husband and I are sitting in the living room floor, wrapping Christmas presents, and I pick this one up and start reading aloud. No more wrapping from me! I had to read both of them out loud, complete with claps and my very best Spanish accent! Tons of fun and highly recommended for family read alongs....more