I would categorize this book as a loose fairytale retelling with rich Indian flavors. It's a jolt of creepy mystery every few chapters, combined withI would categorize this book as a loose fairytale retelling with rich Indian flavors. It's a jolt of creepy mystery every few chapters, combined with an excellent coming of age story. Nair really makes 10 year old Rakhee's voice believable. While the prose is lush and lovely, the majority of the action in this book is in the last fifth of it. And then it becomes a WHAMBAMTHANKYOUMA'AM style of narrative. I couldn't put it down. That said, it was not one of my favorites. The action felt contrived and sort of mushed together, with the reader barely able to keep up with what's happening. It reminds me of those action movies where everything is happening at once and you're supposed to be watching it all but your eyes don't turn independently like a gecko so you can't and you miss half of it because you're so overwhelmed. Not a pleasant feeling. But still a good story. I'm torn between 3 & 4 stars, but I think it's more solidly in the 3 star category because of the extreme concentration of action and that icky gecko feeling....more
While I loved this retelling of Alice in Wonderland pretty much all the way through, the ending really killed it for me. Also her continual forgivenesWhile I loved this retelling of Alice in Wonderland pretty much all the way through, the ending really killed it for me. Also her continual forgiveness of Morpheus smacked to me of the abusive relationship in Twilight, which was obnoxious as hell. That said, I do think the author has a talent for retellings and I'm interested to read the next book in the series, if only to see if the main character ever comes to her senses about asshats (even if she was raised with them)....more
A magical retelling of the selkie myths from Scottish and Irish folklore. This is a beautiful and moody book, very well suited to be read on rainy orA magical retelling of the selkie myths from Scottish and Irish folklore. This is a beautiful and moody book, very well suited to be read on rainy or foggy days when it's chilly (preferably while also on the coast but hey! I live way inland). It's a multi-generational story about a single island where a witch exacts her revenge on the men who never gave her a second thought. She takes her boundless anger out on them for several decades. Eventually though, she does soften; aging often does that to a person.
I found this a really charming rendition of the selkie myths, one in which the book may have mostly talked about men, but it was in some ways all about the women. Since I read books primarily by and about women, this twist is what made it likable (if it had just been about the men, I wouldn't have liked it nearly as much). Overall, while the book is moody and the characters are sometimes hard to keep track of, it still put a smile on my face....more
I had a bit of trouble getting into this one in a way that I didn't notice with other books in the series. But once into it, I find myself engrossed iI had a bit of trouble getting into this one in a way that I didn't notice with other books in the series. But once into it, I find myself engrossed in September's continual growing up. Per usual, Valente's writing style is superb, funny and heavy at the same time, and it sucks you in. It's a fairytale, but it's also a coming of age in a way the other ones weren't. The others were about growing up, but this one focuses on her becoming an adult in her own eyes.
I think the ending was my favorite part of this book. Not because I was grateful it was over, but because it really tied the rest of it--which sometimes felt disparate--together in a neatly fairytaled bow....more
Haunted and haunting. This is a sometimes-hard-to-follow narrative that winds itself into your brain and refuses to be dislodged. After two false starHaunted and haunting. This is a sometimes-hard-to-follow narrative that winds itself into your brain and refuses to be dislodged. After two false starts in reading this book, I finally finished it. Reminiscent of Valente's prose in Palimpsest, this book is much scarier. I suspect it's doubly creepy for me as I'm reading it mostly at home, at night, alone, in my creaky apartment in a house from the late 1800s. If you like to be scared, I definitely recommend reading it in a setting like mine. If not, read it when daylight streams through your windows, curled cozily in your favorite chair, perhaps with a cat and a mug of something warm and comforting.
Reading tip: stop worrying about who's talking; you'll drive yourself insane, crazier than Miranda even. Instead, just keep reading. Let the words dig their claws into you. Stop trying to make the narrative behave. It won't.
Ore was a pleasant surprise to me; I thought she was a man for some reason at the start of the book. Miranda's looming madness is creepy on its' own, but in the context of the house, it's made that much worse. The focus on women and women's stories makes this book really brilliant; I'm a sucker for generational family stories (even if said generations are ghosts that flit in and out of your vision). Ultimately, it's a book that scared the hell out of me and while I feel I'd get a lot more out of it the second time around, I'm too scared to read it again....more
A fairytale in which you can taste the narrator's fear. Thus book is by turns scary and charming. There is also a good deal of wisdom that Gaiman impaA fairytale in which you can taste the narrator's fear. Thus book is by turns scary and charming. There is also a good deal of wisdom that Gaiman imparts on growing up and why some childhood memories behave differently from others. This is a brief fairytale that was written as a love letter, which makes it all the more charming. For its length, I assumed the ending would feel far too abrupt. However, master storyteller that he is, Gaiman manages to wrap it up rather neatly without seeming trite or too glib....more
The second book is not as immediately engaging as the first. I think that's due to the less flowery prose and descriptions that lack the richness founThe second book is not as immediately engaging as the first. I think that's due to the less flowery prose and descriptions that lack the richness found in the first book. A disappointing followup to the first.
Part of it is also that Zuzana became a main character and she is ANNOYING. Think whiny teenager annoying. I suppose that's apt as it's a young adult book, but still. Teenagers don't have to be annoying but this one sure as hell is.
A lot that happened in the end wasn't explained; she tried to be mysterious about it, but it ended up with me reading, being confused for chapters, then finally getting it and going "Ok...and?" (The other response I had was "Really...?!") Neither is a good response to have.
Basically the whole book feels fragmented and messy. She tried to do too much: too many plots, too many voices, not enough development of any one character. Guess she figured she could fall back on the character development she did in her first book. Unfortunately it wasn't enough to sustain the second book. And at the end, she essentially threw out all those plotlines she made you slog through to focus on the main one again (Akiva and Karou)....more
I didn't think it was possible, but I love this one even more than the first one. Somehow it seems to move faster and I'm even more interested in theI didn't think it was possible, but I love this one even more than the first one. Somehow it seems to move faster and I'm even more interested in the story. I strongly suspect this series is going to become one of my favorites. It's such an excellent coming of age fairytale, without being a retelling. Valente manages to take traditional fairytale elements, without repeating stories verbatim. I particularly love her writing style and vivid way of describing things. It reminds me a bit of Francesca Lia Block, but with more complete sentences and less mysteries in Valente's stories.
Such a beautiful, worthy series for any fairytale lover....more
This was a beautiful surprise. While much of her language choices and imagery remains the same, this stands out from Block's more recent books in my oThis was a beautiful surprise. While much of her language choices and imagery remains the same, this stands out from Block's more recent books in my opinion. The story is much more developed using less flowery prose, and you really get to know the character, not just their deepest secrets. Ariel is a wonderful narrator, and you build a great deal of empathy with her as she grows. The way the loss of her best friend Jeni is written got me sobbing unexpectedly. As retellings of fairytales go, this is on the more coherent end of them, in that you're not overwhelmed by Block's typically lush prose. For people who complain about this in her other books, I think you'll find it to be far less of a problem in this one. (Personally I like the lush prose, but that's not super-relevant at this point.) Very much loved this book, quickly to my favorites list....more
Highly reminiscent of Valente's Palimpsest, stunning in its beauty. Karou is an excellent heroine and is someone you want to root for. It is supernatuHighly reminiscent of Valente's Palimpsest, stunning in its beauty. Karou is an excellent heroine and is someone you want to root for. It is supernatural, with foreign names and unfamiliar places, but somehow still believable. It reads like a half-remembered dream, a place I have been before but could not recall upon waking. It's an intricate novel for young adults, which keeps it interesting enough for adults to read as well. The ending felt a bit abrupt, but given the beauty of the rest of the book, it was really lovely....more
Valente always delivers, even in the packaging of a short story. As a rule, I dislike short stories - they always seem cut off or otherwise unnecessarValente always delivers, even in the packaging of a short story. As a rule, I dislike short stories - they always seem cut off or otherwise unnecessarily truncated - but this one was a nice package topped with a neat little bow and I very much appreciate that. It's a small taste of the flavor of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland, but isn't the same story. Beautifully worthwhile....more
I'm really shocked how much I like this book. I'm finding it hard to put it down! It's like "The Thirteenth Tale" and a book of fairytales had a baby.I'm really shocked how much I like this book. I'm finding it hard to put it down! It's like "The Thirteenth Tale" and a book of fairytales had a baby. I'd heard other people compare it to "The Princess Bride", which worried me since I really disliked that book. But I think the comparison is based only in the fairytale quality of each. Though really this book felt more like magical realism until almost the end - that was when it really turned into a fairytale.
Even the "evil" characters are believable and relatable (to varying degrees). Basta in particular feels real - his superstitions almost eclipse his evil qualities at times. Capricorn was the only one I didn't really feel rang true; he's too cold and too lacking in personality to be convincing. That's the only disappointing part of this book. Otherwise the characters, particularly Meggie and Elinor, are quite wonderful.
The ending was particularly poignant, where Elinor turns her house into a sanctuary for all fairytale creatures. I wanted to do the exact same thing when I was younger....more
Picked it up and could not put it down (despite it being finals week). This is a beautifully crafted story that is infectious. It's like The PrestigePicked it up and could not put it down (despite it being finals week). This is a beautifully crafted story that is infectious. It's like The Prestige (the movie) and something by Francesca Lia Block had a baby. It's charming in its' magic, secretive almost all the way through, and is a very Romeo-and-Juliet love story. I am SO glad I read this before 2013, though I should've read it a year ago when Jamie first recommended it to me (moral of the story: always trust the best friend).
It's such a beautifully secretive magical book that I don't actually know what else I can say about it. I could compliment Morgenstern on her ability to create such vivid settings that I long to be in, or the way she manages to make everyone sincere, or how the jumping-back-and-forth style of the book still makes me want to read it. It's also a little bit like Catherynne Valente's "Palimpsest", in that it's a world of dreams. And at the end, you're never sure where reality is exactly. This is a book for dreamers and anyone who appreciates unexpected beauty that is sometimes mixed with something terrible....more