Arc provided by the author through Netgalley
Honestly, I don't even know how to begin this review...
A couple of months ago, I read and loved Mistress of The Wind by the same author.
Even though I love fantasy. There's a type of story that is normally incapable of catching my interest:
Quests. And all that they entail....
In those cases, if the characters aren't interesting enough, and if the world building isn't class A material, my interest will most surely wander around completely lost.
That's what happened here.
There's nothing particularly wrong with this tale and the way it was written.
But I can't help feeling that it lacks intensity, depth, and proper world building.
For instance, when one reads the synopse, and it says:
"Her father has made her a prize in a deadly, impossible tournament,(..)"
I was expecting descriptions that would leave me at the edge of my seat!! I wanted a proper tournament. I wanted to feel the danger. I wanted to be scared for the characters' lives.
I wanted so much more in terms of descriptions...
This means that the three pages that this event occupies in the narrative _ and the way it was told _ left me quite disappointed.
The story begins with the princess perched on the top of a glass mountain.
Glass Mountain which appeared due to the use of dark magic. And that was it. And basically, the characters reaction to the thing...
Wouldn't it be more logical if the village people (well if there's a castle, I'm imagining some villagers ;) ) started running for their lives?
Apparently the use of black magic isn't something as boring and normal as talking and walking...
Then we are told that the princess was lifted to the top of the glass mountain. How?
Magic, again? A crane?
To see the mountain appear step by step. To see how it was created. That would have given it more depth.
Also, it is said that the mountain: "It stood perhaps three stories high...."
But then, there's this:
"Bright blue eyes looked up at her. No longer warm and laughing as they had been last night, but cold with purpose."
Unless, she had binoculars... how? He's on the ground. You're three stories high...
Also I didn't enjoy the fact that I didn't get to see the evolution of these two characters' relationship...
Too much tell.
Yes, that would imply seeing the male character behaving like a cad... but, that would have given him more than his Gary Stu characterization.
That leads me to another point:
The characters don't feel real (ahah). They don't have intensity. Kayla, the princess, for instance, has the characterization of a Mary Sue.
She's bland. She doesn't shine. Every time she gets in a fix, her "special powers" appear and save her...
Against all odds.
It's not that I disliked the characters per se. It's just, that they aren't particularly interesting.
They're good people, honorable people, who behave just like they should.
Kayla takes all that is happening to her in stride.
Oh, I have powers... oh, I can control this element... oh, I'm a _______.
Okay. I'm a sensible person/princess. Of course I can deal with it.
Basically _ for me _ the story began to drag. The action scenes didn't have enough energy, and the incongruous world building killed things for me.
For instance, imagine this magical apple. The golden apple which, up until now, is being used as a healing instrument.
Now, this would mean that this thing is a magical item, right?
But there's a scene close to the end where one of the bad guys apparently created a magical barrier capable of intercepting magic. Everyone who crosses it, loses it.
That's what happens to Kayla. She enters the space, and her magic stays outside.
BUT, the same doesn't happen with the Apple which continues to work... Okay, it's a really strong _convenient _ Apple.
Too many convenient events can kill a plot... and the will to read of people like me who are nitpicky about these things.
Also, I honestly didn't understand what was it with the bad guys. Why the fight for power?
Were they bored? Why now?
Oh, and this takes places in Middleland...
Okay, it's not as if Tolkien has the copyright on the word "Middle", or over quests, and battles between good and evil.
This is not to say, that it's a bad book. It isn't!
But it's not the best of books for people who have been reading fantasy for a long awhile now (me).
But do give it a try! Hopefully you'll enjoy it more than I did.
The follow up will be called "The Silver Pear", and will be released this Autumn.