A fantasy loosely based on the historical setting of the Netherlands and western Germany.
Johanna is the daughter of a rich merchant in the kingdom of Saarland. As an only child and without a mother, she has grown up with notions, such as that she wants to take over her father's river trade business in her own name. Courtesy of her eastern mother, she has an unusual ability. She sees things in willow wood: whenever she touches wood, it shows her what has happened around the tree or wooden object. Any kind of magic is not common in Saardam, and the Church of the Triune, which rapidly gains influence in the city, forbids it. While she goes to church, Johanna also maintains a loose network of magic-enabled people. One of those people is Loesie, a farmer's daughter from out of town. One day, Loesie comes to town after having been struck mute by magic. She carries a basket made from willow twigs that tells Johanna that a group of bandits with demons is about to attack the city. But there is no non-magical proof, so she can't tell anyone or she'd be branded a witch. The time of witch-burnings was not that long ago. Never mind that the army is still approaching, and there are increasing signs that Saardam's embattled royal family might have done something that has angered magical forces in the east. Add to this that the royal family seems to have fallen out with the city's nobility, and that the recent death of the crown princess has left the family with only one heir: the mysterious prince whom no one has seen for years and who has suddenly returned home. At the annual ball, Johanna's father has brokered a dance for her with the prince. Johanna just wants to warn people of the impending attack.
When Johanna learned of the Prince’s return to the kingdom of Saarland, and his imminent crowning, she was puzzled. Prince Roald had been away from the king and queen for some time and the rumours surrounding him were rife. And when her father told her that she would accompany him to the ball with the view of having one dance with the Prince as he needed to choose a wife Johanna was horrified…
Meanwhile when at the markets with Nellie, Johanna spotted her friend Loesie at her basket weaving stand. But Loesie was unable to speak - had she been struck dumb by a malevolent magic? Loesie’s basket made from willow twigs told Johanna something terrible was going to happen in Saarland. What would she do? If she mentioned magic she would be branded a witch...
As Johanna reluctantly prepared to accompany her father to the ball, she still didn’t know what to do. But trouble was on the horizon and much closer than Johanna had realised. What would happen to the citizens of Saarland? To Johanna and her father – to the royal family?
Innocence Lost by Aussie author Patty Jansen is the first in the “For Queen and Country” fantasy series and I quite enjoyed the intrigue and magic as well as the setting. Johanna is a great character with an innate strength and ability to lead. The story is set up nicely at its conclusion to go straight into the next in the series, Willow Witch. Recommended for fantasy fans.
I wanted to like this and I thought it had a good premise but that it was ultimately unbelievable, and squicked the hell out of me. Although attempts at writing an independent-minded female character in a patriarchal society were made, they weren't believable or realised. Similarly treatment of a character with a mental disability was abhorrent. This is one of those books I finished because I kept wondering what the point was, and kept holding out hope that it would somehow come together in the end. It really didn't and I should know better and trust my instincts more often. Ableism is the worst fault of this book, but it runs into some pretty dodgy territory ethics and consent wise too. Plus the story? Just not buying it. Do not recommend at all.
First book free on Amazon.To check out more paranormal romance reads go to https://www.facebook.com/ParanormalBo... This book had so much potential but was bogged down with repetitive scenarios, annoying characters, and a slow story. I would have also put this book down for YA, however, the sexual content left this as a rather ambiguous choice.
Our heroine, Johanna, has so much common sense, but apparently doesn't acknowledge that she can never run her father's business because 1. she's a woman, and 2. women can't inherit. So why does she have so much sense? Beats me, and I found this a truly irritating anomaly.
Her paid companion/servant, Nellie, has no sense at all, and is too stupid to live. She's a servant, right? A constant companion, right? So why has she absorbed absolutely no grasp whatsoever of the types of knowledge that Johanna has? Beats me.
And then we have the Crown Prince. Not too badly characterised for his personality, however, the series of events that pan out just don't really hold any credibility. I thought Johanna was supposed to have some sense? Beats me.
Needless to say I did a bit of skimming in the first two-thirds of the novel, holding out for a 'happening' that would evolve and seize the day. This didn't evolve, but rather devolved. By the final third, my skimming was pandemic.
End result for me was this series just didn't hold any water. For Queen and Country, eh? I don't think so.
This book has the most disgusting "consensual" sex scene. More on that in a minute
Johanna is independent and likes to rebel in little ways like wearing clogs to church (oh the unlady like horror). She lives in a society where women have no value other than what their fathers can get for selling them off into marriage. She has no intention of marrying, but has no plans as to what she can do since women don't inherit. She goes to church, but doesn't believe. She has magic, but the church says magic is evil. etc.
Her father makes deals behind her back to offer her up as a potential bride to the prince. The prince had been away for many years, and the princess was supposed to inherit the crown. The princess died, and her parents tried to work with necromancers to bring her back but to no avail. The prince is developmentally disabled. He has a simple mind, and is very focused on "tits". charming.
The night of the dance, Johanna is painted up and put in a dress, has an awful dance with the prince and then meets a duke or something from another land, she dances with him, they go outside and see that the town is under attack, and we never hear from him again. (Maybe in the last chapter, but I am done).
The town falls, and Johanna escapes with her maid, Nellie, and her friend Loessie who seems to be possesed or something. As they bring her father's boat into the harbor, someone swims to the boat and they realize that the prince, Roland has survived. He immediately tries to molest the women and it's basically treated as something that they should discourage, but he is the prince and the only surviving royal and the monachry must go on (really? Someone who has a simple mind and can't control his impuslses needs to lead ? ).
The rest of the book is a journey up river, seeing that all the towns have been destroyed, and in an idiotic decision, Johanna decides that she must marry the prince to keep the royal family going and produce an heir. Then the scene...starting with Roland giggling when finding out he's married and saying "that means I get to seeee" and then his sex scene, jabbing at her lower areas with his penis repeatedly, saying "I'm a man" while pointing at his penis and saying "I know what to do" when he didn't (which brings up consent issues etc.). Only after he cums does Johanna think this was a dumb idea. Gross. No thank you and done!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Innocence Lost by Patty Jansen is a fantasy novel but I would say for adults not for teens due to the sexual content. Johanna has a touch of magic where she can see the past by just touching things with wood in them. She lives where magic is evil and condemned. She also lives where marriages are arranged and her father is trying to arrange for her to marry her off. Her father made a deal of some kind to have the King invite him and Johanna to the ball for all the pretty girls to see the Prince who had been ill and been in treatment. Come to find out, the Prince is a half-wit and none of the girl want anything to do with him, including Johanna. The ball is invaded by evil barbarians with evil magic and slaughters almost everyone and Johanna escapes. So does the Prince. Soon she finds herself protecting the half-wit Prince. There is so much more that happens in-between that matters so much that will come together down the road I am sure. There is more I am not telling for spoiler reasons. The plot is excellent, the characters are well developed. I was surprised and bummed a bit at the decisions Johanna makes but she is young but there must be a reason down the road. I must wait and see. It won't stop me from reading the next book! Very intriguing.
There were some good aspects to this story, but I felt as if I was reading a YA book at times and there were some rather unsavoury aspects that could have been handled with far more sympathy and tact. (The Prince was one of those. - I felt extremely uncomfortable reading the scenes involving him, simply because of the total lack of empathy on the author's part?)
And the sex scene was unpleasant to say the least.
An average book that reads as a YA novel but contains a horrible, rapey sex scene at the end. Add on top of this an increasingly irritating main character, and a very damaging representation of those with mental impairments, and I truly wish I'd never picked this up. Do not recommend.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Well, I certainly didn't plan to finish this tonight.
For some reason, I've been avoiding a lot of this genre, and it's always the same story. I avoid the stories of forbidden magic and the historical fantasies, thinking I won't like them much, and somehow end up loving them. This has been the case with three or four novels I've read over the last few months, and through this process I've discovered a genre with a lot of strong female characters who know how to say no.
Innocence Lost was no exception. While the book started off slowly, a strong female character lived at its heart from the beginning. Johanna Brouwer is a strong woman and a force to be reckoned with, even before the events that take place, but not without flaws. She is human and is doubtful of herself at many occasions, which is an important trait for a character who is also headstrong and who embraces her differences.
Even though there is a lot of buildup to the main events of the plot, there is a lot of foreshadowing as well, and we meet a cast of interesting characters. While I don't like that we lost a few characters I appreciated early on, I also really do like the characters we have and the way they've come together and grown throughout the story, especially in the later part. Our four main heroes work interestingly together, especially with all the distrust and caution they have toward each other. Even though the story didn't really start until around 60 or 70%, it's one of the rare events where all the buildup was actually very much needed.
I hope to continue this series when I can, but I'll have to see how possible that will actually be since my local library does not have a copy. The story's cliffhanger ending was actually appropriate in this case, and not really overdone. I do want to know what happens next.
The author does a very good job of setting up the world. At the beginning of the book, I had great sympathy for the main character and what was expected of her.
And then I got to the main part of the plot...
I had managed to figure out what was wrong with the prince before it was revealed. It isn't very subtle, though I kept hoping I was wrong. When we do meet the prince, he seems very sympathetic, and I thought that characterization would continue. Instead, he turns into almost a laughing-stock.
The main character turns into a complete idiot. For someone who thinks she is so smart, she does so many foolish things.
And then the book just ends. There is no resolution. Instead, it just stops with a cliffhanger. A cliffhanger I have no desire to see resolved.
What started out as an interesting concept quickly went down hill. The most abhorrent was the sex scene in the second to last chapter.
This book reads like a YA at first but is definitely not.
Prince Roald is frequently called a "halfwit". I'm not sure how mental special needs should have been handled, or what kind of constraints there are for the time period chosen...but this didn't seem right.
He is very focused on the female anatomy. I'll just leave it at that.
There's also the other prince that kisses her senseless in the gardens but isn't seen again for the rest of the book.
A lot happens in this book that just made me raise an eyebrow or shake my head.
A promising story but fell short. When Johanna hears that the Future King is to return and have a ball in his honor. Overall there was just too much repetition of certain aspects of the novel. I.E. The Maid to Johanna was raised prim and proper and over and over it was repeated that certain things were “scandalous”
I have not read this author before, but as it was part of a collection I thought I would give it a go. I found it quite slow. There are a lot of repeated words and conversations so this did unfortunately cause me to skip parts. The author could have shown more compassion and empathy for the topics they discuss in the books instead of calling people idiots. I understand it was for representation, this is great to see such characters, and also represent how these people are seen, but at the same time also became quite awkward and disrespectful. I did not feel comfortable reading it at times. The sex scene? Really was not needed, again it just felt it was used to humiliate people. The characters? I did not like any of them, I liked the idea of them, but Johanna especially was not likeable as she judged everyone.
I loved the concept though of magic, her powers through the willow were really interesting and I would like to explore this more. Loesie intrigues me, I want to know what happened to her! The plot when it finally revealed itself was actually really good with the bandits taking over, it did keep me reading. Overall I would say it's worth reading for your own opinion. Unfortunately this writing style is not for me and even though I want to know more, I am not invested in the characters enough. At least I can say I tried a new author and that is always worth doing!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Johanna is very strong willed. She has her own way of thinking and doesn't mind not following what is expected of her. She also has a secret, one that would be consis|red magic and evil. But because of this, she discovers her town is coming under attack and the cause coming from a very unlikely source. How can she warn the town without actually revealing what she can do? This is a good storyline. Reminds of the city of Salem and witches in the 1800's. Of course, who wouldn't love an independent want spirit like Johanna. I always love reading stories with strong female characters. The authors writing, at times, was a little a slow, too descriptive and dragged. Seemed slow and fast paced. Great story for a start, but hate cliffhangers. I gave this a four star read.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from Romance Authors that Rock. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
In Innocence Lost, we follow Johanna, a girl who can see the past in willow wood. The book opens with Johanna meeting up with her friend who has been magically silenced, but who gives Johanna a basket that shows her demons have invaded her friend’s home.
Of course, Johanna lives in a society where magic is shunned, so she can’t just go around telling people demons are invading. Instead, she has to figure out a way to tell the authorities without revealing how she got this information.
This book was super slow, to the point where I almost fell asleep multiple times while reading it. It felt as though nothing was really happening throughout the book. Eventually, I decided I needed to hate-read it in order to finish it.
One aspect of the book some readers may not enjoy, however, is the inclusion of Prince Roald, the developmentally disabled heir to the throne who quickly becomes King when his entire family is murdered throughout the course of this book. Near the end of the story, Johanna decides she is the only person able to continue on the royal lineage and has sex with Roald solely for the purpose of conceiving an heir. Because while society literally goes up in flames around you, your first thoughts should be of bringing a child into the world instead of finding safety so you can survive, I guess.
I usually try to spin my reviews to find something nice to say, just in case someone out there wants to read a book I hated, but honestly? Don’t.
I really liked it this story. It’s just the beginning and I’m sure there’s so much to come because here we meet the main characters, how they live and what they expect from life. There’s magic and some secrets that threaten to change everything and how they fact those changes is very interesting to see.
Our heroine has strong convictions of what she wants but she’s learning that in life many time we can’t do what we want but what we must and it’s best for other people instead of ourselves.
Surprising and appealing characters, especially the royal prince and his family. That make you keep reading to know more about them and what’s to come.
The book felt too short. Although more than a few days had passed, it didn't feel like that. By the end of the story, I felt like I had read the prologue, and that's all. It was a good prologue, but not really a standalone story. A thousand questions were asked, but not a single one answered. The end was especially puzzling. Johanna's choice at the end came a bit too suddenly, and I found it hard to believe that was the climax of the story. In the end though, the story was an easy read. The pages flew by in a rush, and I was finished in a heartbeat. None of the parts dragged too much.
This lovely book is a quick and fun read. I particularly loved the world building and the new concept of magic the author invented. Johanna has wood magic. She has visions when she touches willow wood and can experience what the wood saw, or rather, what happened around it. The Church of Triune forbids any type of magic, so Johanna must keep her talent secret. I think the tone of the novel, its characters, and its content leans more toward YA than adult.
Not convinced Not totally satisfied by this book. Johanna is annoyed that as a girl, she isn't taken seriously and is only suitable to be married off. On the other hand, the Crown Prince Roald is a halfwit but must be married off to produce an heir for the good of the kingdom. Loesie is 'possessed' and according to the Shepherd/Priest should be evicted from the town. Maidservant Nellie can't understand why Johanna doesn't behave like a proper girl. Reviewed on Kobo on April 14, 2018
At first I was intrigued by the setting. I had never read a fantasy novel set in the "Netherlands". I guess the region lacks the whimsy of Ireland and the pathos of Slavic nations? The book flowed well and was easy to read. Unfortunately, the surprising turn it took in the last chapter or so was disgusting enough for me to decide to stay away from the series. The other reviewers wrote more on the matter and, fortunately, spared me the uncomfortable task.
Interesting story of a young woman who goes to a prince's ball and ends up having to abandon all her childish ways. Basically she grows up in a single day. Her life before was rich and easy but I don't think it will be in the future. This story has a huge cliffhanger ending.
Adventurous plot with an abundance of mysteries. Brave leading lady trying to save her dying kingdom. Some unusual characters playing out in the background. Though the one you thought might play the hero simply disappears out of the plot, which was a bit disappointing. Maybe he'll turn up in book 2, which I must read as the plot is left hanging.
Purchased as part of 8 fantasy novels in a boxed set from Amazon for $0.99 "Swords and Magic", July 15, 2022. This was the first novel in the boxed set - the main characters lack depth and seem simple-minded. Explicit depressing sex near the end which was apparently added to save a failing storyline.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Don't let this book fool you. It's a fairytale. Jansen's books are difficult at the beginning, but they do get good. Innocence Lost isn't as good as her science fiction books, but this will certainly have you turning the pages to see what will happen next.
I really liked this book and the characters. There was romance, arranged marriages, danger and life changed in an instant. When fighting broke out and some had to run for their lives. I am looking forward to the next book in this series.
Really slow build up. Boring. Got more interesting at the end. Like other reviewers have said, ended in a sharp cliff hanger. I already have the series, but I wouldn't recommend this book to others unless they are willing to invest in the whole series.
Fairly typical entry to the kindle library where the first book acts as a free preview to a longer story, read this one as part of a collection called sword and magic and it's good enough i will look to read the others in this series at some point.
An intriguing start to what I'm sure will be a fun series. A leisurely paced novel, sets up this series, with our heroine Johanna's life being thrown into turmoil. Book 2, The Willow Witch should really kick this series into high gear!