The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag

the sisters grimm cover

This is the story of four sisters Grimm – daughters born to different mothers on the same day, each born out of bright-white wishing and black-edged desire. They found each other at eight years-old, were separated at thirteen and now, at nearly eighteen, it is imperative that they find each other once again.

In thirty-three days they will meet their father in Everwhere. Only then will they discover who they truly are, and what they can truly do. Then they must fight to save their lives and the lives of the ones they love.

My Thoughts

the sisters grimm cover

3 / 5

I was so confused by the start of this that I very nearly gave it up as a bad job.

The narration jumps not just between 5 different characters but also two different times, giving a short burst from each one before cycling back round to the start. It took at least a third of the book before I got a grasp on it, I felt like every time I started to get into the story it threw me back out again.

I don’t like the idea that abusive men can be changed by love and that felt like a very strong theme here. Leo comes across as almost a psychotic killer, murdering the Grimm Sisters every chance he gets in revenge for one of them killing his friend – even though it was self-defence. But he meets Goldie and even though at first, his aim is to get to find out her weaknesses to make it easier to kill her too, his love for her changes him to the point where he would die to protect her.

What kind of message does that send to young people that might be reading this book? Don’t give up on abusive partners because your love might be the thing that saves them? Personally I think that Goldie should have run very far and very fast to get away from Leo.

Unhealthy relationship issues aside, the writing style I found captivating and when I got the hang of the jumping around and got into the flow of it I found it a beautiful story to read. The character development – the glimpses into their lives and their personalities is in-depth and insightful. I did start to enjoy it but then I found the ending super rushed and I found it overwhelming for all that build-up to end so abruptly.

I just can’t get past my issues with the way it portrays relationships though and that, added to the difficult start and rushed ending, are a massive let down for what could otherwise have been a jewel of a book.

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

 

The Sisters Grimm
Menna van Praag
Young Adult Fantasy
February 6th 2020
Kindle
496

Gullstruck Island by Frances Hardinge

Gullstruck Island Cover

The Blurb

On Gullstruck Island the volcanoes quarrel, beetles sing danger and fish can see the future. But look closer into the mists and you might glimpse…

The jewelled smiles of a persecuted tribe.
A tattooed band of warriors hell-bent on revenge.
A blue-skinned bounty hunter painted with the ashes of those he’s killed.
And two girls with a deadly secret, running for their lives.

My Thoughts

Gullstruck Island Cover

4 / 5 stars

A beautifully written and thoughtful adventure story.

Hathin is one of The Lace – a tribe isolated, distrusted and excluded from island life. Her sister Arilou is one of The Lost – certain people who can send their mind and their senses out from their bodies and roam around the island. They act as messengers, spies, weather predictors and are very highly regarded. But Arilou needs constant care because she seems unable to return her mind to her body.

Arilou is to be tested for her abilities by the government and her family hope that she will bring back respect and a better standing for The Lace as a whole. But on the day of the tests, The Lace are attacked and Hathin must take Arilou and run for their lives.

Hathin is brave and courageous but just a normal girl trying to do the best for her sister and her people. She’s not super intelligent, super strong or super caring and because of that, I found her easy to relate to and so even more inspiring.

The adventure is fun and scary at the same time, the story has a lot of darkness in it. It’s based on prejudice and genocide but manages to tackle these in a way where it feels like an important part of the story but not likes it is written just to be a moral lesson. The darkness is tempered by the fairy tale feel of the story and the tone is kept hopeful without being overwhelming.

As good a character as Hathin is, the real star of this book is Gullstruck Island itself. The different tribes and the landscapes feel real, the volcanoes are given personalities of their own with the myths that exist around them. This is a book that you can get lost in and the landscape and people of Gullstruck Island are a big part of that.

This book has everything – good story, good characters, a world that feels real and beautiful writing to hold it all together.

If I had to pick a fault with it there are maybe a few too many lucky escapes and convenient events that help Hathin along her way. She doesn’t always think her way out, sometimes it is just handed to her. But that’s kind of standard for an adventure story and didn’t spoil it too much, these kind of stories are always a little unrealistic.

I highly recommend this, if you want an adventure story, this is almost perfect.

Gullstruck Island
Frances Hardinge
Young Adult Fantasy
December 16th 2008
Paperback
499

Revenger (Revenger #1) by Alastair Reynolds

Revenger Cover

The Blurb

The galaxy has seen great empires rise and fall. Planets have shattered and been remade. Amongst the ruins of alien civilizations, building our own from the rubble, humanity still thrives.

And there are vast fortunes to be made, if you know where to find them.

Captain Rackamore and his crew do. It’s their business to find the tiny, enigmatic worlds which have been hidden away, booby-trapped, surrounded by layers of protection–and to crack them open for the ancient relics and barely-remembered technologies inside. But while they ply their risky trade with integrity, not everyone is so scrupulous.

Adrana and Fura Ness are the newest members of Rackamore’s crew, signed on to save their family from bankruptcy. Only Rackamore has enemies, and there might be more waiting for them in space than adventure and fortune: the fabled and feared Bosa Sennen in particular.

Revenger is a science fiction adventure story set in the rubble of our solar system in the dark, distant future–a tale of space pirates, buried treasure, and phantom weapons, of unspeakable hazards and single-minded heroism and of vengeance.

My Thoughts

Revenger Cover

3 / 5 stars

Alistair Reynolds writes some fantastic sci-fi and the world he has created here is weird and as interesting as ever. How can I not like a book with space pirates and treasure hunting in?

Unfortunately, the main character wasn’t compelling enough to carry the story. I liked the idea of Fura Ness but actually I couldn’t stand her. Her ego is way out of control and we hear time and again how events have changed her, how she has lost all emotions and will do anything now for revenge. I want to root for her, a female character that is cold and ruthless, but honestly, it comes across as showing off. If her actions were left to speak for themselves I might have been able to connect with her more.

Apart from Fura, I liked the book. I was really enjoying it when Fura and her sister Adrana signed onto Mornetta’s Mourn to get away from their over-controlling father. They sign on with a crew of treasure hunters as bone readers and start to understand the whispers that come from an alien skull that allows the ship to pick up leads on treasure – strange planet style ships that are full of valuable alien tech. The crew is full of interesting characters and the story is interesting and I started to think that I would love this book.

But then their treasure hunting adventure goes badly wrong and that’s where Fura Ness starts to get annoying. I did enjoy the rest of the book but I couldn’t help thinking I’d rather be reading about their adventures as treasure hunters rather than Fura Ness’ revenge quest.

I loved the sci-fi and I loved the weirdness but I just couldn’t connect with the main character. It’s still one of the better young adult sci-fi books I’ve read but if there are any sequels to this I hope they are about different people.

Revenger
Revenger
Alastair Reynolds
Young Adult Sci-Fi
September 15th 2016
Paperback
425

The Drowning City (The Necromancer Chronicles #1) by Amanda Downum

The Drowning City Cover

The Blurb

Symir – the Drowning City. home to exiles and expatriates, pirates and smugglers. And violent revolutionaries who will stop at nothing to overthrow the corrupt Imperial government.

For Isyllt Iskaldur, necromancer and spy, the brewing revolution is a chance to prove herself to her crown. All she has to do is find and finance the revolutionaries, and help topple the palaces of Symir. But she is torn between her new friends and her duties, and the longer she stays in this monsoon-drenched city, the more intrigue she uncovers — even the dead are plotting.

As the waters rise and the dams crack, Isyllt must choose between her mission and the city she came to save.

My Thoughts

3 / 5 stars

The Drowning City Cover

Isyllt Iskaldur is a necromancer sent to the occupied foreign city of Symir to aid the rebels fighting to regain control. Her interest isn’t altruistic though, her sole intention is to distract the Emporer from pursuing an invasion attempt against her own country.

Symir, the city she is sent to, is a city with waterways and masked balls, reminiscent of Venice. It’s supposedly full of pirates, smugglers and exiles and the locals have a rich culture and worship the river.

From the description, this book sounds like it should have a strong atmosphere with lush places but I didn’t get a feel for the city or the world at all. Even the bustling marketplaces felt flat, like a trip around the 5 stalls that are left in Wakefield city centre nowadays,

It didn’t help that I was confused by all the different names – the places, the races, the military and terrorist groups, the types of mage; I was well and truly lost by how it all fitted together. It’s one of those that drops you straight into the middle of a story without stopping to explain anything but I didn’t feel like it even drip-fed the info, it just didn’t bother with it at all.

I’ve no idea on how the magic system is supposed to work and with Isyllt being a necromancer that should have been interesting and well rounded. So she has a diamond where she can trap the souls of the dead that haven’t moved on but her other abilities are fuzzy and it felt like they were made up when needed to get her out of a fix.

A saving grace though, the characters were all done well, a lot more time was spent on them than the world they inhabited. I felt like I knew Isyllt I just had no idea what she was supposed to be doing and actually, in the end, she went all that way just to give a bit of money to the revolutionists. What was the point of sending her? She didn’t do much to help the revolution at all. I did like her though, she just muddled through getting into fights and making a mess around her but she felt genuine and relatable.

Lots of good ideas and the characters were done well but overall very dry and a bit confusing. I reckon the sequel could be better and I’d be willing to give it a go.

The Drowning City
The Necromancer Chronicles
Amanda Downum
Fantasy
September 1st 2009
Paperback
351

Ink (Skin Books #1) by Alice Broadway

Ink Cover

The Blurb

There are no secrets in Saintstone.

From the second you’re born, every achievement, every failing, every significant moment are all immortalized on your skin. There are honourable marks that let people know you’re trustworthy. And shameful tattoos that announce you as a traitor.

After her father dies, Leora finds solace in the fact that his skin tells a wonderful story. That is, until she glimpses a mark on the back of his neck; the symbol of the worst crime a person can commit in Saintstone. Leora knows it has to be a mistake, but before she can do anything about it, the horrifying secret gets out, jeopardizing her father’s legacy and Leora’s life.

My Thoughts

3 / 5 Stars

An interesting central idea but beyond that, there is nothing original about Ink.

A young woman with fantastic abilities or an unusually strong will realises how unequal and prejudiced her society is and takes on the fight to change it. There’s a stong Hunger Games / Divergent influence going on here. There is even a series of tests to decide what career you will have for the rest of your life.

Leora is not quite a strong enough character to carry a whole book series, she is dull and mostly uninteresting. But I can maybe forgive that for being intentional. The most interesting thing about her is actually that she is just another normal citizen – she’s a sheep, as sold on the propaganda as everyone else around her. For most of this book, she stays that way. Seeing the way she is forced to see things that don’t gel with the ‘truths’ of her society and the way she still tries to reconcile that with what the government she trusts completely tells her is the best thing about this book. There is some character growth for her along with a lot of potential for her to develop some personality for the next books.

If the normal side of her was played up more I would have been more into this but Leroa is too special. An amazing tattooist, a unique ability where she can read people’s tattoo’s and tell their whole life story, she’s too unusual and too amazing and it doesn’t fit with the normal girl feel to the start of it. Hunger Games and Divergent worked because the main characters were always odd bods, Ink had the chance to do something different with Leroa but the got ditched by the wayside by the end of this first book.

The focus around tattoos I enjoyed. Leora is training to be a tattooist, a career not many, if any, women in her society choose. Though I don’t know really why that was included because not much is made of it. Leora doesn’t face much discrimination, it takes the tattooist she is apprenticed to about a week to decide she is the most amazing thing in the world ever.

I also appreciate how morbid it is, when Leora’s father dies his skin is taken off and made into a book of his tattoos. In this way, he and all of Leora’s ancestors live on in the memories of their family. To add to this they have the continuous naming ceremonies where the names of all the dead are read out one by one in a bid to keep the memory of every person alive.

There is enough here to give this book it’s own personality but it’s too obviously the same story at the bottom of it all.

Young adult dystopia by numbers, it’s not a bad book but it doesn’t live up to the originality of the world it’s created. Beautiful cover though.

Ink
Skin Books
Alice Broadway
Young Adult Sci-Fi
February 2nd 2017
Paperback
366

The Blood Gospel (The Order of the Sanguines #1) by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

The Blood Gospel Cover

The Blurb

An earthquake in Masada, Israel, kills hundreds and reveals a tomb buried in the heart of the mountain. A trio of investigators—Sergeant Jordan Stone, a military forensic expert; Father Rhun Korza, a Vatican priest; and Dr. Erin Granger, a brilliant but disillusioned archaeologist—are sent to explore the macabre discovery, a subterranean temple holding the crucified body of a mummified girl.

But a brutal attack at the site sets the three on the run, thrusting them into a race to recover what was once preserved in the tomb’s sarcophagus: a book rumoured to have been written by Christ’s own hand, a tome that is said to hold the secrets to His divinity. But the enemy who hounds them is like no other, a force of ancient evil directed by a leader of impossible ambitions and incalculable cunning.

From crumbling tombs to splendorous churches, Erin and her two companions must confront a past that traces back thousands of years, to a time when ungodly beasts hunted the dark spaces of the world, to a moment in history when Christ made a miraculous offer, a pact of salvation for those who were damned for eternity.

My Thoughts

2 / 5 stars

Daft and trashy and even though it’s got vampires in they are rubbish, non-scary, and kind of boring, vampires.

It’s way too heavy on the religious side for me – the ‘good’ vampires exist on the sustenance of drinking the blood of Jesus – which sounds like it should be awesome but actually just means the blessed wine that they have in the catholic churches. And when they drink it they get bizarre flashbacks of all the sins they’ve committed. Which is conveniently very useful in providing the readers with one of the backstories of one of the main characters.

Still, I enjoyed reading it, I went in expecting it to be nonsense and it is but Erin and Jordan are interesting and not overly stupid and there’s lots of the racing about and the puzzle-solving that I want from this kind of book.

It could have been much darker with the addition of actual vampires, but honestly, they are outdone by the killer animals – bats bears and wolves that are luckily very easily killed. There is never enough danger to make it scary and the vampires are too tame and not very exciting.

Overall it’s a lot duller than it should have been but it’s ok for a cheesy holiday read if you have limited options.

The Blood Gospel
The Order of the Sanguines
James Rollins (Goodreads Author), Rebecca Cantrell
Thriller
January 8th 2013
Hardback
479

Books with Weddings in Them

Time for another book list, I haven’t done one of these in a while!

This one is inspired by me getting married earlier this year, it seems like weddings are all I’ve thought about for the past year or so and it feels fitting to create a book list based around that.

Photo credit: Tim Dunk

The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2) by Helen Hoang

The Bride Test Cover

I downloaded this for something fun to read, I didn’t have very high expectations for it really but I fell in love with the characters and I really enjoyed the story.

Khai is determined not to start a relationship with anyone, he has convinced himself that he doesn’t have emotions and can’t connect with anyone the way his family want him to. His mother can’t accept that and intervenes, bringing in Esme in the hope that Khai will warm up to her and fall in love. It’s so funny, in a sweet way, watching how confused he is when he starts to have feelings for Esme but doesn’t really understand what’s happening to him.

Esme is super sweet and trying hard to make a better life for herself and her daughter but even so, she doesn’t want to marry Khai just for his money, she wants to be able to support them herself. She quickly falls for Khai though and starts to try and convince him they should be together. I admire her determination! I don’t normally like stories where the woman is trying to convince the man into a relationship but Esme charmed so much I didn’t mind it.

The two of them have a lot of chemistry and funny and charming interactions and this is overall just very enjoyable. I’m happy to see it’s part of a series, I need to go back and read the first one now!

The Bride Test on GoodReads

The Wedding Date by Zara Stoneley

The Wedding Date Cover

The Wedding Date delivered exactly what I was looking for: a fun and frivolous story that I could read quickly and not have to think about too hard.

I was surprised though by how much I liked Sam. She wasn’t daft and didn’t get herself into stupid cringy situations and I thought she was actually very funny. Her internal monologue made me laugh a few times! Jake was lovely and the attraction between him and … – the most important thing in this type of story – was alive and well.

More could have been made of the Scottish setting and some of the characters were a bit too one dimensional. There wasn’t much life in the story outside of Sam and Jake, the wedding felt a bit flat and the mother’s lack of personality started to get irritating rather than funny after a while. In fact, the whole story started to drag and get a bit daft towards the end.

Overall I found this an enjoyable read even if the end was a bit slow. A good one for the beach!

The Wedding Date on GoodReads

 

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

Agnes and the Hitman Cover

Agnes has a lot to deal with, she’s fighting to keep her house, plan a wedding that isn’t hers, deal with a dead body in her cellar and if all that wasn’t enough, someone keeps trying to kidnap her dog.

I really loved Agnes and Shane. Agnes is quirky and independent and Shane is sensible and practical and very honest. The two together set some serious sparks going and their dialogue was just right. Chemistry wise this book was spot on.

The story started off promising but was just a bit too far into zany with so much going on that I found it hard to keep track of the plot, who was falling out with who, who was falling for who, who had been killed off, and who all the suspects were. It got way too messy for me to keep up with. It could with maybe fewer characters, or, even though I hate to say it because I love a good murder mystery, fewer deaths.

There is no lack of interesting and colourful supporting characters but again, way too many of them so the story felt cluttered with subplots. I would have liked more time with Agnes and Shane, their romance was overwhelmed by all the other stuff going on. I wanted more of them and their funny arguments!

I did enjoy this one though, Jennifer Crusie has long been one of my favourite romance writers and while this isn’t one of my favourites by her it still stands head and shoulders above the rest of the romance field.

Agnes and the Hitman on GoodReads

The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie

The Cinderella Deal Cover

I loved the character of Daisy. Independent and original, she’s not afraid to be herself. Linc is almost her exact opposite, hard-working and inoffensive he cares a lot about what people think about him.

The setup for them moving in together and pretending to be engaged is weak but I didn’t think about it too hard and the rest of the story covered for it. It’s fun and the characters are interesting and bounce off each other nicely.

I felt a bit uncomfortable with the way Linc was trying to change Daisy. It was like he thought she wasn’t good enough, her furniture was too shabby for him and Daisy wasn’t normal enough. I felt quite sad when he made her feel bad for the work she had done to make their home cosy and welcoming. In the end, though, it seemed to be more about how they both had to compromise to build a relationship together that worked. Daisy had to accept that Linc liked things neater and more orderly then she was used to and Linc had to learn to accept Daisy for being unusual and not try to make her into a show wife. It doesn’t sound romantic but I’m on board for a bit of realism where normally in romance novels we get characters that have an instant where they have a massive 180 in what they can live with because LOVE.

The story is not the strongest but it’s fun to read and the romance between them is believable.

The Cinderella Deal on GoodReads

 

 

Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa

soul of the sword cover

The Blurb

One thousand years ago, a wish was made to the Harbinger of Change and a sword of rage and lightning was forged. Kamigoroshi. The Godslayer. It had one task: to seal away the powerful demon Hakaimono.

Now he has broken free.

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, who for centuries was trapped in a cursed sword, has escaped and possessed the boy she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.

Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse of the sword and set himself free. To overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness, they need one thing: the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross once again, the entire empire will be thrown into chaos.

My Thoughts

3 / 5 stars

I really struggled to get into this. It felt like there was nothing happening, the story feels like filler – like a setup for the final book. And I’m sick of Yumenko’s running commentary on what her insides are doing, we get details of how her blood is chilling and her stomach is churning, the girl needs to sort out her diet.

I still love the setting and the world – there’s more on the empire and the places and people in it, and more of the monster world too which I found interesting. I could read about the different demons all day and I love how they’re based on Japanese folklore.

I was hoping for more development of the members of Yumeko’s gang too but it felt like that had been skipped over and they just ended up as space-filling caricatures. It spends longer with them but they’re not filled out any more than they were by the end fo the first book. Reika could be such an interesting person, her personality and her skills remind me of Rei from Sailor Moon, but all she does is scowl at everyone and disapprove of everything anyone does. Okame and Daisuke have a relationship building but it felt forced into the story.

The fun side quests and the adventure feel of the first book were also sadly missed. The stakes were definitely upped at the end of the first book and there is more danger and a bigger fight to face but it didn’t get dark enough to make up for the fun feel being ejected.

I also missed the interaction between Yumeko and Tatsumi. The other characters didn’t have the same spark to make up for it and when Yumeko and Tatsumi meet up again at the end it highlights what a big gap their interactions left in the story.

The ending though I loved! No spoilers but it was exciting and unexpected and lived up to the build-up and set the scene perfectly for the next book.

The story is still interesting and even if this book didn’t meet my expectations I still need to see where it goes and how it ends. I’m hopeful for the next book and I will be excited to get my hands on it.

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

Soul of the Sword
Shadow of the Fox
Julie Kagawa
Young Adult Fantasy
June 25th 2019
Kindle
304

Railsea by China Miéville

Railsea cover

The Blurb

On board the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap watches in awe as he witnesses his first moldywarpe hunt. The giant mole bursting from the earth, the harpoonists targeting their prey, the battle resulting in one’s death & the other’s glory are extraordinary. But no matter how spectacular it is, travelling the endless rails of the railsea, Sham senses that there’s more to life. Even if his captain can think only of her obsessive hunt for one savage mole.

When they find a wrecked train, it’s a welcome distraction. But the impossible salvage Sham finds there leads to trouble. Soon he’s hunted on all sides: by pirates, trainsfolk, monsters & salvage-scrabblers. & it might not be just Sham’s life that’s about to change. It could be the whole of the railsea.

My Thoughts

4 / 5 stars

Railsea is a young adult adventure story with a steampunk vibe, a Moby Dick retelling set in a dystopian future. The sea has been replaced with railway lines, ships with trains, and whales with giant moles that burrow through the ground.

China Mieville has reigned in his darker, grittier side, but not by as much as you might have imagined. I feel he strikes just the right balance for a young adult audience – they’re not daft and they don’t need to be sheltered from the realities of life but also the more twisted side of his writing has been left out. The book makes sense and is easy to follow without having to think too hard about it.

His sense of humour is front and centre though, he uses Moby Dick as an influence but also pokes fun at it at the same time. Each train captain has their nemesis mole, the one they feel compelled to hunt down and destroy, but what happens when two captains claim the same nemesis?

The story follows Sham, a teenager / young man who is looking for his purpose in life. He can’t settle to anything but sees joining a moler train as a way to feed his need for adventure.

I loved reading about life on the moler trains and I found it easy to lose myself in the world of Railsea. The Moby Dick influence is used as a starting point but it doesn’t feel like it confines or directs the story, it quickly breaks out into a tale of its own. There are a lot of other references to stories like Robinson Crusoe dropped in along the way too, picking them out is half the fun of the book!

My favourite characters: the Shaokes, twin inventors who are building their own train in a determined bid to go out and search for their lost parents. Meeting these two kicks Sham off on the adventure he’s always wanted as he joins them on their search. They also bring a lot more of the steampunk vibe in, which I love! In an alternate reality, I could imagine myself as a Shoake.

I read this on my honeymoon and finished it in less than a day. There’s a lot in here for adults too, it has youngish characters but it could just have easily been filed in the adult category. I was super excited to read it and I wasn’t disappointed at all.

Railsea is as odd, inventive and strange as I’ve come to expect from China Mieville and I recommend to anyone who likes adventures, steampunk and a bit of weirdness.

Railsea
China Miéville
Young Adult Sci-Fi
April 25th 2013
Paperback
376

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted book cover

The Blurb

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, ambitious wizard, known only as the Dragon, to keep the wood’s powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman must be handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as being lost to the wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows – everyone knows – that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia – all the things Agnieszka isn’t – and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But no one can predict how or why the Dragon chooses a girl. And when he comes, it is not Kasia he will take with him.

My Thoughts

3 / 5

Not as much romance as I wanted but I did appreciate the strong theme of friendship running though the story.

After reading the description I was hoping for a fun romance between Agnieszka and Sarkan and it did start out that way with lots of mystery from Sarkan and sarkiness from Agnieszka. But just as I was starting to enjoy the interactions between them and it looked like things were heating up the romance side of the story is just ditched when Agnieszka leaves for the capital.

I loved the first half of the book – it starts out with a lot of banter between them and Agnieszka is struggling with learning the magic basics. You can really see the Beauty and the Beast influence here and it’s fun watching the balance of power between them change as Agnieszka finds her strength in her abilities and her confidence grows.

After the halfway point Agnieszka started to irritate me with her amazing abilities that appear just when she needs them and her lucky escapes. Then Sarkan disappears from the story altogether just as we start to get to know him and the spark and the contrast between that made the story so lively is gone.

The story gets more exciting but it doesn’t feel like anything special. It feels like I’ve seen this story over and over again recently. A young woman is looked down upon and treated like she is a second class citizen but finds that her abilities are super special and she starts to outshine and outwit everyone around her.

What I did appreciate is the way Agnieszka’s confidence grows and she becomes much more sure in herself and her abilities, though it eventually goes too far with this. She forges her own path and isn’t afraid to go against the popular appearance. She is the hero of the story and the removal of Sarkan makes this clear. By the end though she is so amazing and so fantastic and kind and wonderful that it gets a bit grating.

Friendship is a strong theme running through the book, Agnieszka and Kasia are the real stars of the story, I think this should have been the focus all the way through, adding a romance into the story just took away from this. Kasia and Sarkan are never fully realised, dropped in and out when it suits the story and it would have been nice to get to know at least one of them in-depth, and maybe see their side of the story.

The writing is beautifully done though, by far the best thing about the book. And to be fair, Agnieszka was always just the right side of too irritating to live. The way she was written made her more enduring than annoying, but only just.

I expected more after all the hype about it, but it’s an enjoyable coming of age adventure story and it’s very well written.

Uprooted
Naomi Novik
Young Adult Fantasy
May 12th 2016
Paperback
435