This is the second book of the Two Monarchies Sequence. (“Masque,” which I reviewed earlier, was the first book written but is the last book in the series.) “Blackfoot” starts essentially right where “Spindle” left off, although the actual story starts several years later. The book starts Annabel’s story and continues Melchior’s story. And while there is no actual fairy tale inspiration for this book, it has all the requisite fantasy elements: an interesting heroine who is smarter than she gives herself credit for; a sarcastic and mysterious hero who is wise but not too wise; and an annoying but lovable best friend. The magic remains complex but internally consistent, and the villain is quite scary. My only disappointment after I finished this book is that there is only one more unread book in the series for me. (I may just have to re-read “Masque” to get all of the inside baseball references.) I can’t wait to see what the author writes next and the rest of her books are on my list to explore.
This book is a re-telling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale but to say that is like saying that Shake Shack is just another burger joint. This re-telling of Sleeping Beauty is original, intricate and complex. The magic (or, more accurately, the magics) are complicated and internally consistent. Poly, the heroine, suffers from imposter syndrome (people think she’s a princess) and is courageous and resolute. Luck, the hero, is enigmatic and occasionally annoying (in a good kind of way). Their relationship is simultaneously amusing and touching. The allies and enemies that Poly and Luck meet on the way are well characterized, and the time travel element fits well within a fantasy story (as opposed to a science fiction story). The prose is elegant and accessible, and the foundational elements of the fairy tale are recognizable while, at the same time, the author imaginatively expands the story line. I read the first two books of this series out of order, but they are both standalone books. W.R. Gingell is a gifted author, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
To say that this book is the retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale does the author an injustice. So, yes, “Masque” is a retelling of the traditional fairy tale, but it is one of the most fun and original retellings I’ve ever read. To begin with, the story is set in a setting where both magic and technology exist. But, more interestingly, a murder happens, and the heroine decides she wants to solve the murder. The heroine (who is the narrator of the story) is, in turn, sarcastic, irreverent, funny, and perceptive. I love her. The hero is also a strong character in his own right, but it is the heroine whose story it is and who tells it as she wishes. The secondary characters are fully formed and engaging in their own right, and the love story is reluctant and adorable. The only minor flaw in the book is that the mystery is not that complicated–I figured it out shortly after the first murder (and I hate figuring out the murderer before the end). But this book is so much more than the murder mystery and well worth the read. Note: this is the first book I’ve read by this author, and it looks like this is not a sequential part of but tangential to the Two Monarchies series. I am excited that I have 3 more books (and fairy tale retellings) to investigate! I highly recommend this book!
I inadvertently entered this series in the middle of the narrative arc (this is the first of this particular series but not the first in the narrative, if that makes any sense). I plan to go back and start at the beginning, which is to say that this book was good enough to make me want to go back and start at the very beginning. Some of the carefully constructed world was a bit unclear from a new reader’s perspective, and there is clearly context that I missed because I picked up the story mid-thread. However, the story was well-crafted and well-plotted, the characters were interesting and three dimensional, and the world was consistent and credible. My only complaint is that there was no real ending–merely a cliffhanger with many plot lines left open–but that’s a flaw that is common in the fantasy genre, especially one that spans so many books. I especially like the author’s willingness to move contrary to the reader’s expectations. In other words, the author will deliberate set up a character and narrative arc so that the reader expects one outcome and then zags to produce a completely different outcome. It’s cleverly done.
Off to find Book #1 of the series!
I rarely give a book 5 stars, but the rating is well-deserved for this one. Recommended by Lin-Manuel Miranda via my daughter (who’s not much of a fantasy reader but who also loved it), this is the first volume of a trilogy describing the life of Kvothe who is part magician, part musician, and part assassin. Building a convincing and consistent fantasy world is difficult, and though it took 722 pages to do so (and that’s only volume #1), those 722 pages were well utilized. The world is gritty and realistic, the magic is complex and consistent, and the narrative is multi-layered and compelling. The book is told mostly in first person by Kvothe, with bits and pieces of a third person narrator thrown in to deepen the narrative. Despite the length, the author leaves you with questions unanswered and mysteries still to be solved. (This is the one weakness of a planned trilogy, which is that the ending leaves you incomplete.) It’s worth it.
All in all, this is the best fantasy novel I’ve read in quite some time. I look forward to reading the second in the series and wait impatiently for the final volume to be released.
This is an unusual cross-genre book–part fantasy and part romance. There is deeper character development and more sparkling dialogue than you find in most fantasy novels. The author also takes care in developing her world, although much of it is by inference and implication rather than narrative. The advantage of this, of course, is that the novel moves much faster, and you learn about the character at the same time you learn about the world.
The story is told in first person by the heroine, Cat. She is an accomplished, snarky, and flawed character. I liked her immensely. The hero, Griffin, too, is very appealing. I also like that the romance is turned on its head, and it’s Cat who is reluctant to move the relationship forward, rather than Griffin. The secondary characters are well-developed and have their own personalities, especially Griffin’s team.
The weakness of most cross-genre books is that it does a mediocre job of both genres, and it’s the combination that makes such a book unique. The length of this book enables the author to treat each genre with the attention it deserves, so that fantasy and romance readers are both satisfied. And if you’re like me and love both genres equally, this book is deeply satisfying. Or, as satisfying as a swords-and-knives bodice ripper can be. (Which is, to say, quite a bit.) I am looking forward to reading the second book in this series!
I have no idea how to classify this book–it’s as if the author of The Hunger Games trilogy went drinking with Friedrich Hayek (“The Road to Serfdom”) and C.S. Lewis, and they all decided to write a novel together (while drinking). 🙂
The book is all about faith and freedom and redemption, and, yet, it is about none of these things. I have concluded that it is one of those rare books where you get out of the book what you put in, only with your thoughts more deeply developed and your words more lyrically written.
I realize my review is somewhat cryptic, but the book defies classification and is one of those books that stays with you long after you’ve finished it. It isn’t the kind of book I normally read, and it’s not always a comfortable read (intentionally so). Even with those caveats, I really enjoyed it, and it will keep me thinking for quite a while.
If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary to get your mind to go down roads it doesn’t normally travel, I highly recommend “Blythe” to get those brain cells going!
When I first realized a few pages into this book that Achilles was going to be the hero of this particular novel, I did a mental eye-roll (I may have even done a physical eye roll). Achilles has never struck me as being anything but an arrogant, petulant and sulky “hero” during the Trojan War who got his comeuppance too late as far as I was concerned.
That the author managed to convince me that there may be more to this Achilles fellow than I had previously given him credit for is a testament to her writing, her imagery, her characters, and (possibly) her imagination.
The plot isn’t much of a surprise, but the characterizations are the author’s own, and it’s a testament to her detailed writing and her passion that they are convincing. The author’s writing is lyrical and vivid and a complete pleasure to read. I strongly urge you to read this, if you have any interest in Greek mythology at all, and I very much look forward to her next book!
This book is a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. I’ve been a fan of the author’s earlier works (her Valdemar series–especially the early books–was excellent). I’m a bit ambivalent about this one. The author does a vivid and convincing job of setting up the magical world, which is one of her strengths. And the first half of the book, describing how Marina (the heroine) is cursed and her life with her guardians and how she discovers and controls her magic is well done. It’s only after Marina goes to live with the Maleficent equivalent that the book deteriorates. You never get a good explanation as to why Maleficent is so bitter and hateful, and the love story with Marina is completely unconvincing. (In essence, there are several interactions where the hero behaves like a boor, and then Marina suddenly realizes she’s in love with him. Whatevs.) It’s almost as if the author realized she hit her page limit but couldn’t bear to cut any of the earlier story (understandably) and just rushed headlong into the climax and ending.
I do like the Elemental world that the author has created with this retelling of fairy tales and am likely to give the series one more try, but this book, while I liked it well enough, was far from the authors’ best work.
I’m a fan of the fantasy genre and picky about my books. This is a very well written book with several interesting plot twists and surprises. The characters are well drawn, and the heroine is especially entertaining with her sarcastic sense of humor and plucky spirit. The secondary characters are also interesting. The pacing is, perhaps, a bit uneven (not surprising for a debut novel), but while the book may start a bit slowly, it certainly makes up for it the rest of the way!
For fans of YA or fantasy, I definitely recommend this book for you!