Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy (even though the publication date was in 2012/13). GO READ THIS BOOK.
“I have before me now a newThank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy (even though the publication date was in 2012/13). GO READ THIS BOOK.
“I have before me now a new life, if I choose to take it. I feel a ripple of something sweet and wonderful wash through me. I am done with that, I think. I wonder if it is joy I feel.”
With fairytale retellings popping up everywhere, it’s easy to think they might not be worth your while. But this one is, I promise you.
Other than being a standalone book, which is rare enough, it’s somehow manages to avoid most of the clichés you’d expect – and that I did expect from it. The plot is not “heroine is saviour and saves the world”, there’s no love triangle and hardly a love story ((view spoiler)[ although the growing relationship between Krestrin and Alyrra is both lovely and heartbreaking it ends more with the possibility of romance (hide spoiler)]), the protagonist is well-written and not the type of character I expected at all. She’s self-aware, flawed and at times frustrating, but always reasonable.
There’s magic, yes, princes, queens, there’s the fairytale atmosphere, but with a dark, realistic edge, and you can sense the classic fairytale tropes somewhere underneath it, but it’s just that, a sense. You can see where the story comes from, but Khanani takes the source material and makes it her own.
And I’ve had it, honest to god, with those feisty heroines who have such an inflated idea of the value of their freedom that they fight any and all authority that they perceive as trying to restrict them in any way. I’ve had it with heroines who just ‘need to follow their own path’ and everything will work out. No, you have responsibilities, especially if you hold power, no matter what that power may be. There is of course value in doing your own thing and thinking for yourself, and there's value in a narrative about someone distrusting authority, but constantly assuming you know better than others and never listening? It’s dumb and I’ve had it. So you have to understand how grateful I am for Alyrra, because she doesn't charge in without thought and consideration.
Having grown up with an abusive mother and even more abusive brother, she’s learned to stay passive, hidden and out of the way. She befriends the servants, because they treat her kindly, and she accepts her fate of an arranged marriage for political gain, because it’s her responsibility. It’s what she’s required to do for her family and her kingdom, and at least it’ll get her away from her family. I was actually impressed with how well I think Khanani handled having an abuse victim as her protagonist, and I’m forever grateful to her for letting Alyrra react as she naturally would. She doesn’t fight back before men losing their temper, she cowers in a corner, she flinches when they raise their hands, she’s terrified. It’s the demon she can’t outrun but will have to face and unlearn. And it’s not something you unlearn through violence, but with kindness, patience and good friends, who can remind you of your self-worth.
“Dangerous is cutting your finger on a rusty nail and getting lockjaw. Dangerous is walking behind a skittish horse and getting kicked against a wall. Dangerous is walking anywhere in this city at night. Dangerous is not helping someone stay safe.”
Can you really blame her for not instantly fighting it when her identity is switched with someone else? Finding herself in a different body, she has to decide if she’ll fight to get her former position back or perhaps start a new life, without the responsibilities of a princess. A life where her family can no longer get to her, where she might finally be safe.
Of course, the world is cruel and unkind and men are bastards no matter where you go. That’s why you have to fight them, for those who can’t or are silenced when they try.
For a fairytale retelling this book tackles some really heavy subjects. Such as abuse and rape (only referred to) and violence, and if justice is really worth anything if it isn’t for everyone and if it has no room for mercy. As well as illustrating how much of a difference it makes what kind of people hold power, and that those who hold power, are responsible for how it’s used.
“I know I cannot leave Valka as my successor; that, having been born to power, it is my responsibility to see it handled well by myself, by those who come after me.”
There are, all along the way, unexpected turns, roads you didn’t think Khanani would dare travel, but suddenly you’re there and you realize this is no fairytale at all. Khanani takes what could have been a superficial and clichéd story and gives it depth. It’s a fresh, original and unexpected read that left me satisfied and excited (because it’s so GOOD), but also sad to be leaving it behind. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Also, look at that cover. Beautiful. ["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
“All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the(I was provided with a copy via Netgalley.)
“All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”
Jackaby is the most fun I’ve had reading a book for a long while. It’s a lighthearted mystery and detective novel, heavily inspired by the well-known Sherlock Holmes, with a dash of the paranormal and inexplicable. Well, it’s not that inexplicable when you’re like Mr. Jackaby and gifted with the ability to see supernatural creatures and phenomena.
Of course, being a daring, eccentric detective is hard work, so enter Ms. Rook, newly appointed investigative assistant and a headstrong, perceptive and adventurous young lady. She’s our point of view, our storyteller, and her character does a wonderful job of maintaining a grounded curiosity, that we, as readers, easily fall into, and suddenly you’re hooked.
I genuinely enjoyed this book. It isn’t often I’m capable of just sitting back and enjoying the ride, but I completely let go this time. The first few pages were a bit heavyhanded and over the top, as if William Ritter wasn’t quite sure how to begin, but the moment the supernatural entered the scene he truly hit his stride and I was swept away by a myriad of curious descriptions and remarkable occurrences. It’s a well-balanced mix of folklore, common mythology and supernatural creatures we’re familiar with or have likely never heard of before. All centered around a gruesome murder.
The murder-mystery is slightly predictable, I’ll admit, but I still ended up sitting at my computer and reading this at 1am after my boyfriend had fallen asleep. Not because I was dying to know WHO had done it necessarily, rather because I so caught up in the adventure and was eager to continue it.
I am confident that the next books will have much more intricate and complex mysteries – they’ll likely also grow darker – but for this first book, what we were given was an interesting murder case, and some wonderful establishing of characters, relationships and worldbuilding. The force of this book is not the case they’re on, even though it keeps you reading, it is getting to know our characters, being introduced to the remarkable, magical and quirky life of Jackaby, and seeing exactly how well Ms. Rook fits into it. More than anything I was surprised and delighted at how well William Ritter manages to blend together the paranormal and the normal. I love that, by making Jackaby one of the only ones with the ability to see ‘behind the veil’, we only get glimpses of this entirely different world that exists right beneath the fingertips Ms. Rook, and all other ordinary people. It charms and intrigues, because it isn’t entirely open to us. Add that to the always pleasant setting of 1900th century England, you’ve created something that is certain to draw people in.
At least it did me.
If you’re looking for some lighthearted, quirky and well-written fun, with the occasional brutal murder and magical creature, then this is a very good place to start. ...more
“A deep stillness wrapped his being and, with it, a feeling of the past, an experience like déjà vu: he was where he was but also not, he was here and
“A deep stillness wrapped his being and, with it, a feeling of the past, an experience like déjà vu: he was where he was but also not, he was here and also there, he was a boy at play and a man at war and the third thing he’d become.”
This is a worthy sequel to the first book, and just as thrilling and enthralling. It answers the questions we were left with from The Passage, and the answer is bigger and darker than I imagined. Human beings can be cruel and terrible when there’s no government or system left to punish them for their crimes, add a paranormal threat and suddenly there are few rules left. It’s about survival.
It doesn’t start with the characters we know, but takes off at the beginning of the ‘plague’ again and this time around we follow a whole new set of characters. I was a little put off at first, because I was extremely attached to the people of the first book, but I quickly forgot and became absorbed by the new story. Seeing the end of the world from the perspective of outsiders was interesting to say the least, and they’re not just random survivors either, they have ties to the people we’ll meet 90 years in the future. Just look how lovable they are,
“What is it with old ladies and the snot-rag-in-the-sleeve thing? Doesn’t that strike you as just a little unsanitary?” “This from a young man with enough ink in his arms to fill a ditto machine.” “A ditto machine. What century are you from?” “When I look at you, I think of one word. The word is ‘hepatitis.’”
As I’ve come to expect from Justin Cronin, nothing is random and in the end everything indeed comes together. You can’t help but be impressed by his ability to manage several different timelines, and stories, and weave them together in a way that not only makes perfect sense, but is often shocking and brilliant.
I really can’t say too much, for fear of spoiling anything, but the stakes are much higher in this book. Having found a military base in the last book, with thousands of living humans, it’s no longer about keeping a small community safe, there’s suddenly good reason to wipe out the virals completely and restart the human race.
“Does anybody out there care? Are we worth saving? What would God want from me, if there is a God? The greatest faith is the willingness to ask in the first place, all evidence to the contrary. Faith not just in God, but in all of us.”
It turns out, despite having been given the way to wipe out the virals, it’s no easy thing to accomplish, not while at the same time trying to sustain a large community in a world as dangerous as this. There are complications, lies, secrets, mysteries, horrifying revelations and all of it is exciting, well-written and never quite what you expected.
I’m especially fond of the narratives Cronin gives the women. They’re all complex and diverse characters, and each of them have, in their own way, an immense impact on the story and the way events unfold. There’s also an exploration of what being a woman is like in a world that’s gone haywire. In the aftermath, men will again assume positions of power and authority, thinking they belong there, and women have to fight, all over again, for the right to control their bodies and to be seen as people, not sexual objects. So it matters that the women affect the story as much, if not more, than the men, because in so many ways, this particular story is theirs.
I just love these books. I love how complex the story is, how side stories and various plotlines merge and lead to the one place it all has to end. I love that we see the story from so many different perspectives, and that even the truly awful characters seem human underneath it all. We understand that good and evil is a spectrum and all people fall somewhere on it, but that you’re never simply one or the other. It truly explores that moral greyness we’re all part of when governments fall and we no longer have anything but ourselves to rely on for moral guidance.
It’s simply a very good book. I’m counting the days until the third installment. ...more
This is the thrilling sequel to Cinder, which doesn’t simply continue the story of Cinder and her daring escape, but adds a new set of characters that This is the thrilling sequel to Cinder, which doesn’t simply continue the story of Cinder and her daring escape, but adds a new set of characters that are as equally engaging as those we are familiar with.
This introduces us to Scarlet, and is, yes, the retelling of Little Red Riding Hood with a Big Bad Street Fighter in place of a wolf and a grandmother who’s more missing than she’s dinner. I like it. And I like Scarlet better than I liked Cinder to begin with, because Scarlet isn’t tied down by a hidden legacy or false identities, which makes her feel more wholesome. There are secrets she’ll have to uncover, to be sure, but she can stand her own ground, and her loyalty to her family is admirable.
The major plot of the book is with Scarlet, but Cinder is not simply rolling her thumbs in prison. She’s picked up a sidekick (however reluctantly); the almost-Captain Thorne, who’s fucking hilarious and an absolute joy, and they’re out and about, running from authorities and unlocking Cinders’ past.
In the end the two stories intertwine and suddenly two stories become one and it’s as well done as you could hope. It does suffer a little from being a “middle book”, and thus the plot is a little slow in places, leaving room for background info and a slow build-up to the real showdown in Winter. What it lacks in storytelling it makes up for with awesome characters. I was more immediately fond of Scarlet, than I was of Cinder, so this was easier to get into, but watching Cinder grow and come to terms with herself is really wonderful to see as well.
More importantly, this series hasn’t lost sight of the fact that the real heroes of this story are the heroines. No one (not even the guys) are there simply to be someone’s romantic interest, and love is not the ultimate goal, however when it occurs it is portrayed as a strength, not a weakness and god bless Marissa Meyer for that.
I have no doubt these girls could overthrow countries, and that is so fucking fantastic.
“Slipping onto her hip, Cinder glanced back to see Scarlet marching down the ramp, carrying a shotgun.”
That is perhaps my favorite moment from the book. I can get down with girls saving other girls with shotguns. Next up is Cress, and I am excited! ...more