3 Following

Reading and Writing Things

I'm an avid reader and a published author now gone indie.

Currently reading

Ankaret Wells
To What Miserable Wretches Have I Been Born?: Revenge Poetry for Babies and Toddlers
Suzanne Weber
Terry Pratchett
The English Civil War: Papists, Gentlewoman, Soldiers, and Witchfinders in the Birth of Modern Britain
Diane Purkiss
The Sword - Jean Johnson This book was recommended to me as part of my quest to find solid, well-written, feminist romance. However, since it's probably unfair to place the expectations of a not-really-existent genre on an author, I'll try to base most of my review on reading it without that last criterion.

Overall, I'd say it was okay, 3.5 stars. The world-building aspect is excellent, and the characters interesting enough to make me consider reading the sequels. There are some clever ways of working in various story elements and while a few came off as contrived, I'll give the author points for making them plot-relevant later.

There were parts of the writing that didn't work well for me, most notably a few instances where poor editing should have caught repetitions. More than once, a sentence starts and ends with the same phrase along the lines of "As the storm settled, [some stuff happened], as the storm settled." Worse were the endless descriptive repetitions. Those are fair enough early on when the reader needs to sort out which brother is which, but when Kelly joins most of the brothers for breakfast and is introduced to them, that should have been the end of redefining and describing them every time they enter a scene. It got to the point that I dreaded Rydan's appearances because he'd once again be mentioned as the night-loving or daylight-shunning brother. We didn't need to read about Kelly's aquamarine eyes and strawberry hair constantly either: I'd have preferred those kept to when they were meaningful, such as the material for her dress. By overusing the word aquamarine, the impact of the silk for that dress was diminished.

And while I can respect the choice to go with fairly modern colloquialisms in the dialogue, such as "gonna", I personally prefer a more formal dialogue style in this sort of setting. But it was at least consistent, so I'll give credit to the author for that.

It's a nice story insofar as it wraps up on its own but still leaves some threads dangling to entice you into the sequels. I'd have liked more hint about who has been sending the monsters, but fair enough to put it off to a sequel.

As for the feminist angle, I could see early on that the author was trying to present a strong heroine who demands respect, and I appreciated that. The first few pages having the hero throw her over his shoulder and spank her rankled, but when he realized that he was being a bully, I gleaned that the author was going somewhere in examining the gender roles so I was willing to put up with it.

Then a whole Snow White trope came in: Kelly apparently loves cleaning and the men are all inept on their own. That made me sigh and roll my eyes. Fair enough that she's into sewing and SCA stuff: that part was very cool. But really, a woman taking over "womanly" duties to get the castle clean? Ugh.

But again, the author adeptly wove that in as a useful plot device, so I grudgingly accepted it.

What really bothered me, though, and what makes me give 3 stars instead of 4 (since I can't do 3.5), is the bit near the end where Kelly goes on a rant which starts out very cool amidst promise of sequels exploring gender roles in interesting ways, only to diminish it all by claiming that women are smarter than men and better able to handle diplomacy. No. That's not okay with me. My feminism isn't at the expense of men, and combined with the stereotype of a bunch of bachelors living in filth, unable to mend their own garments or clean their yard despite having magic spells that do these things for them, the whole thing made me wince. I can accept the baddies as hit-on-the-head-obvious misogynists and even the good guys needing to lose some of their own preconceived notions of gender, but I have a big problem with pseudo-elevating of women by diminishing men.

I'll probably read the sequels at some point, but I feel the need to try some other books first.