I have very mixed feelings about The Treachery of Beautiful Things. I just finished it, so it's a little difficult to process, so I'll take it one thing at a time...
I loved the theme of this novel. When Jenny revisits the forest where years ago, her brother was snatched by the forest, instead of finding closure, she finds herself drawn in also and finds that the forest is both intensely beautiful and life-threateningly treacherous. She vows to find her lost brother, if only to save her broken family, and comes across blood-sucking Redcaps, soul-stealing gorgeous boys, and man-eating trees. But it is also about the family bond, love, compassion and courage in the face of danger - the qualities of a true May Queen (guess who it turns out to be).
This is a point in which I was severely disappointed in the novel. The characters, although "good", weren't necessarily likable.
Jenny's often in the "damsel in distress" position - be it with the aforementioned Redcaps, guys or pixies. One mean word from her new crush and she's running off into the arms of a guy who kisses her and sucks her soul
. That leaves Jack (the crush) to feel guilty and journey to all sorts of places to save her. She couldn't have just talked it over? Maybe even ignored him like normal people? Other times, you find her foolishly rescuing a Leczi's ugly baby, which supposedly shows her deep compassion. And then suddenly, she can scare off the monsters, who a day ago, were about to tear her apart. That last part isn't necessarily a character flaw, just a flaw in logic.
I couldn't connect to the torn, tortured-soul Jack whose only memorable characteristic is that he has the one blue and one green eye. He's the guardian of the Edge, which means he must protect outsiders and must help them on their quests, but he has also foolishly promised his loyalty to both the king Oberon and the queen Titania (Mab) who are very much at odds.
Even the "bad guys" - well, you're supposed to hate them, right? Or love-hate them? Or feel as if they mattered in the story, other than just creating a reason for Jack to feel uncertain about his feelings for Jenny, and then when they finally get together in the end, to make it seem all the more magical. Every couple has to have hurdles, right? In this case, they were lame ones. It's not their fault they think they're so invincible!
Puck made a lot more of a mark on me than the other characters - he was mischievous and two-faced, but also caring and loyal when he was needed, but he wasn't even developed properly. He had minimum impact.
The writing style of this author is truly fabulous. She writes in this lyrical prose that brings out the wonder of the forest - the enchanting and the terrifying. However, I found it to be way too long and at times, too slow-paced for my liking. For the first half of the novel, not much occurred and even the action scenes weren't very quick and snappy.
Although the book could maybe have used some cutting, I was awed by the pure talent this author has: the inconceivable surroundings, the forests' inhabitants, all felt completely real to me.
What is up with these two? They're fighting one minute and totally in love the next. I don't get it. I don't like it.
I feel cheated! I mostly requested this on Netgalley because of the gorgeous cover, but then I found out from a few mentions on Goodreads that the girl is just a stock photo and has been taken from the The Hedgewitch Queen
cover! All they did was flip her, added the forest background, and drew flowers all over. That may be money-saving, but I am totally disappointed! Ack!!
The title, however, is both apt for the story and insightful about reality.