Ensnared by Rita Stradling

Ensnared Cover

Ensnared Blurb

A Near-Future Retelling of Beauty and the Beast

Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.

Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.

To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.

Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.

This novel contains adult situations and is only suitable for readers who are 18+.

My Review of Ensnared

EnsnaredEnsnared by Rita Stradling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ensnared is based on Beauty and the Beast, but it takes the basic idea and runs with it, throwing in sci-fi elements with automatons, AI, and self-aware robots.

I was expecting a young adult story from the blurb, but it’s aimed at adults.

If I’m being honest the story is daft, there’s not a lot of world building, and there are plot holes you can drive a truck through. But it’s also a lot of fun, with likeable characters.

I liked Alainn, she’s independent and not afraid to speak her mind, but she’s not perfect. She’s not overly intelligent and is prone to taking risks that endanger her life. It’s this daredevil impulse that leads her to agree to impersonate the robot Lorccan has ordered to save her father from going to jail. It (kind of) makes sense in context.

Lorccan is a recluse who is scared of germs and has little to no experience of other people. I can almost believe he doesn’t realise that he got a real person instead of a robot, even though Alainn is very, very bad at pretending to be a robot. She doesn’t even think about how she is going to eat, so almost starves herself at first. I think about food all the time, so if I was going to have to pretend to be a robot somewhere it’s probably the first thing I would worry about.

I liked that Lorcann’s problems aren’t magically fixed by the power of lurve. At the end of the book, he still can’t leave his home for fear of germs. It’s clear that it’s a bigger, ongoing issue that Alainn can’t fix for him.

My favourite character in this has to be Shelley. She has anxiety, and battles with herself when she pushes herself way out of her comfort zone to help Alainn when things go wrong. She reaches a point where she can’t force herself any further and leaves with the police instead of escaping with Alainn. I loved that she wasn’t treated as a coward for this, instead, Alainn thanks her and calls her a badass.

If you want something that’s not going to tax your brain and you can just enjoy reading it, then this is a good choice. I read it in a day, I didn’t want to put it down. I even had to have it propped up in front of me while I was brushing my teeth!

I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Ensnared
Rita Stradling
Sci-Fi
May 23rd 2017
Kindle
419

The Bear and the Nightingale (The Winternight Trilogy #1) by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale

Book Description

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

My Review of The Bear and the Nightingale

The Bear and the NightingaleThe Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Bear and the Nightingale is set in Russia and is based on Russian myths and fairytales. I love fairytale’s and modern retellings of them, and this one is dark and chilling, and just beautifully written.

I liked how it starts quite slowly when Vasilisa is born. Vasilisa’s family live in a big house deep in the Russian countryside, their winters are cold and long and getting caught outside at night means death. The author spends a lot of time creating a world of long dark winters, honey cakes, woods and wildness and the magical characters that live in them. It’s easy to lose yourself in the atmosphere that’s created, I could feel the cold along with the characters!

Vasilia is wonderful, wild and raised to be independent, she has magic and power of her own that becomes more apparent as she gets older. The story gets more magical and a lot darker as Vasilia has to fight to save her family and her village from the Bear.

Very readable, and I absolutely recommend it. I didn’t want to put it down, and I stayed up far too late to finish the last few chapters.

I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

The Bear and the Nightingale
The Winternight Trilogy
Katherine Arden
Fantasy
January 10th 2017
336

All Darling Children by Katrina Monroe

All Darling Children review

Book Description

All boys grow up, except one.

On the tenth anniversary of her mother’s death, fourteen-year-old Madge Darling’s grandmother suffers a heart attack. With the overbearing Grandma Wendy in the hospital, Madge runs away to Chicago, intent on tracking down a woman she believes is actually her mother.

On her way to the Windy City, a boy named Peter Pan lures Madge to Neverland, a magical place where children can remain young forever. While Pan plays puppet master in a twisted game only he understands, Madge discovers the disturbing price of Peter Pan’s eternal youth.

My Review of All Darling Children
All Darling ChildrenAll Darling Children by Katrina Monroe
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This takes the Disney version of Peter Pan and mixes in a big dollop of The Lord of the Flies. And if you think that sounds like a mix that shouldn’t work, you’d be right. Reading about the cheesiness of Tinkerbell and Smee one minute, and then sacrificing Lost Boys to ensure the survival of the Island’s magic the next is disconcerting.

Madge is the granddaughter of Wendy Darling. Though how that works when Wendy Darling was 12 or 13 in the early 1900s, and Madge is 14 in the present day, I have no idea. Anyway, she goes to Neverland with Peter Pan searching for her lost mother and the truth about her family. Once there she realises that Peter Pan is a dictator, ruling through fear and murdering anyone who stands against him.

Madge is a very underdeveloped character. She never shows any personality of her own, her only conversations with other people involve her sneering at them. Supposedly she is trying to find the truth about her family, but never displays any actual motivation towards doing anything about it.

Pan himself is much more interesting, but for me the best character in the book is the lovely Slightly. A sweet, charming boy, he is Madge’s only potential ally in the Lost Boys.

I wasn’t convinced by the story in this – there was a lot alluded to but never fully explained and Madge just ran around reacting to things and generally being unpleasant. Even her own hunger she is only aware of because Pan hears her stomach growling!

The story never got going and the battle at the end was a big anticlimax.

I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

View all my reviews

All Darling Children
Katrina Monroe
Young Adult Fantasy
200