So many reviewers are getting hot over this volume, and I'm over here shrugging. I think it was great for plot development, and Kyoko's growth is blowSo many reviewers are getting hot over this volume, and I'm over here shrugging. I think it was great for plot development, and Kyoko's growth is blowing off the ceiling (which I love!!). However - my big however - I am liking Ren less and less with every volume. Am I the only one out there who thinks he's kind of a selfish, self-absorbed ass? I realize he's dealing with trauma, but he ends up taking it out on Kyoko way too much. She's too full of rainbows and sunshine to handle that shit, no matter how much he thinks she "saves him." He's pursuing her like a drug addiction, and that's not coming off as healthy. I will accept her decision, but it doesn't mean I have to like it. On the positive note, I am really enjoying Kyoko's struggles with understanding and confronting the feelings of love. I very much agree with her position most of the time. Love can be ugly, it can bring out the worst in people and it sometimes makes people stupid. I avoid it sometimes for the very same reason. Watching her grow through this has been very therapeutic. ...more
*I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
The highlights of this book, for me, had to be the first 15%*I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
The highlights of this book, for me, had to be the first 15% and the last 25%. Everything in-between was a little like trudging through a swamp.
The writing is extremely lyrical and well-done, I gladly admit that. Fans of Robin McKinley and Neil Gaiman will be right at home with Arden's fantastical setting and sentences thick as molasses. The use of fairy tale/folklore also helped the book shine, and I enjoyed the bits and pieces of traditional Russian charm.
However, the plot and pacing needed help. As I said above, the beginning kicked off very well, and the ending (once you get there) rounds the story off nicely. The middle strays and wanders and drags. It wasn't horrible, but I wasn't exactly enjoying myself. For a story about Vasya, you really don't get to spend a whole lot of time with her. Once Konstantin comes in, he takes up a majority of the plot, and you also loose that wonderful fantasy feeling. It gets bogged down with history, religions clashing and overturning powers. Which, truly, is interesting, but it totally changed the book, pulling it away from the fairy tale realm into a war between beliefs.
All the while, I'm hoping the actual plot will start--the one I was promised at the beginning, of Vasya meeting the Frost King and saving her people. After every chapter, I found myself asking: "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" Everything kept being delayed in order to stretch the cloth thinner and thinner, until every thread stood out. Such an action displays the craftsmanship that went into the fabric, but also stretches it out beyond use. This sweater looks a little far-gone.
When I finally got what I was waiting for, the detail took a back seat, and the action would sometimes advance between sentences instead of the long paragraphs I was used to--describing the painting of priests and worrisome women. That time and attention could have been distributed better. I liked the Frost King, but he also lost a bit of his pizzazz from start to finish. I really thought he'd play a more integral plot point. He was more of a bystander. Sure, he helped, but he never stood out in a grand way. He was a means to make Vasya rested and fed, to borrow a horse. The rest was solved by others. There should have been more time with him.
Overall, I still give this book 3 stars, mostly for the writing style. If everything were a bit more focused, I think it could have been excellent. But, as is, I kind of have to shrug and only recommend this to hard-core fantasy readers and those interested in Russian life and folklore. ...more