There are times when I can read a book despite not being the target demographic (e.g. Harry Potter). This is not one of them. It's great if you like t...moreThere are times when I can read a book despite not being the target demographic (e.g. Harry Potter). This is not one of them. It's great if you like the idea of Norse mythology mixing with modern day life (I don't).(less)
**spoiler alert** Where to start? Basically, the beginning of the book is the end of the book. Literally.
In the first chapter, the narrator, Berthe,...more**spoiler alert** Where to start? Basically, the beginning of the book is the end of the book. Literally.
In the first chapter, the narrator, Berthe, explains that she and the other inhabitants of Beauxpres now live in a state of perpetual paradise, and after so many years of it they've all grown tired of it, but they cannot escape it.
The rest of the novel is spent detailing the narrator's entire life story up to when they achieve this 'paradise.'
Berthe is a servant to a lady, and she loves her lady, and she follows her wherever she goes, and then the lady gets married to the lord of Beauxpres, but there's some curse upon the household. Years pass, the lord and lady have children, and then their daughter grows up and then goes on a journey to break the curse.
It doesn't sound bad, does it? Trust me, it's awful. The main character is likable enough at first, but it's very apparent that she's enamored of her lady beyond all reason, and that her lady does not really care that much about her in return. So it's a one-sided sisterly love (or perhaps more, it was hard to tell) situation. The other people in the household are mostly insufferable. One son is a rapist, the other weak-willed because he wants to go into the clergy, and so he gets bullied a lot and there's really no purpose to him even existing. The other servants are selfish and unlikable, the people in the village are resentful towards anyone from Bauxpres, so in the end Berthe has no friends except the black boy, Pompey, who is abused etc. because he is black, and at the end of the story he simply disappears without a trace. So you don't even get a satisfactory ending for the only character you're sympathetic toward.
Couple this with the fact that Berthe ends up the one discovering why the curse was set on the family anyway: because an ancestor of the man of the house was a child torturer and rapist and had done this to a wizard's child ... blahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Since the story is told from Berthe's perspective, we can't see what happened when the daughter goes on her journey to break the curse. To get around this limitation, the author has a group of actors visit Beauxpres and re-enact the entire thing via a magical play.
The daughter finds the old wizard who created the curse and asks him to remove it. His condition is that she should bear his child so that the child can live again (what?). So we get an awful NC sex scene.
Oh, and the daughter also knows magic, so after her return she tells everyone at Bauxpres that can send them all to paradise to save them from the French Revolution. They agree, and then the book ends with them stuck in paradise. So, there's really no resolution to the story.
I really felt like I wasted my time with this book. (less)
There are three simultaneous stories and it's a little hard to follow in the sense that you are wondering, "Why exactly are we focusing on these vikin...moreThere are three simultaneous stories and it's a little hard to follow in the sense that you are wondering, "Why exactly are we focusing on these viking people?" etc. because you don't see how these stories will come together in the end.
Ash is apparently the main character, and she isn't given much of a personality. The Queen, on the other hand, is painted as the 'bad guy' and she has a lot of personality -- her husband's health is failing, and her worthless son is going to inherit the throne, which is infuriating even to the readers! We end up empathizing with her and hoping her plot to take the throne herself works.
Enter Ash, the king's illegitimate daughter, to throw the Queen for a loop. What is she to do, really? I ended up not caring much for Ash even when it came to possible assassination plots vs. her.
Anyway, the story ends up unresolved. It was designed as book one of a series, and there actually isn't a sequel written because the author died. Honestly, I didn't know this until seeing it on another review, because I didn't plan to read it anyway!(less)
Well, it was good, but it had some silly parts. I personally don't like it when it's a fantasy world but oh wait it has some characters that are actua...moreWell, it was good, but it had some silly parts. I personally don't like it when it's a fantasy world but oh wait it has some characters that are actually from our world. Suspension of disbelief is really easy in fantasy but this sort of thing crosses my line.
Overall I think it's worth reading if you're interested in how Studio Ghibli changed things when he made the movie. That said, I prefer the movie, but in the book's defense, I saw the movie before I read the book, so of course I'd prefer it.(less)
**spoiler alert** Maybe I'm an awful person, but it was so darn hilarious when Kabapu rammed into the desk. That scene alone made the entire book for...more**spoiler alert** Maybe I'm an awful person, but it was so darn hilarious when Kabapu rammed into the desk. That scene alone made the entire book for me. I was not expecting it.(less)