Friday, April 4, 2014

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

Summary (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her own canny skill--a uniquely powerful ability to communicate with the fairy-like Good Folk--Neryn sets out for the legendary Shadowfell, a home and training ground for a secret rebel group determined to overthrow the evil King Keldec.

During her dangerous journey, she receives aid from the Good Folk, who tell her she must pass a series of tests in order to recognize her full potential. She also finds help from a handsome young man, Flint, who rescues her from certain death--but whose motives in doing so remain unclear. Neryn struggles to trust her only allies. They both hint that she alone may be the key to Alban's release from Keldec's rule. Homeless, unsure of who to trust, and trapped in an empire determined to crush her, Neryn must make it to Shadowfell not only to save herself, but to save Alban.
I feel like I’m in a bit of a reading stump. It’s not that I’m hating all the books I’m reading. I like them. I’m just not loving any of them. I had high hopes for this one too. I love the author. I love her adult fantasy books and I love her YA fantasy books. She tends to write these strong female main characters I can’t get enough of. And she is so amazing at writing a sizzling romance. I figured this book would be just what I needed to get out of my funk.
I found it to be a little dry. It definitely read more like the Irish folklore adult fantasy books I love than the previous YA the author has written. But if you cut a lot of the violence and sizzling romance from the adult fantasy books, they just won’t be as good. And that’s kind of what this felt like. It felt like she wrote one of her amazing adult fantasies, but then cut out a lot of the juicy stuff.
Neryn was definitely another easy to love strong female main character. How can you not love a girl who always shares her meager supplies of food with fairies only she can see? And the poor girl lost her mother at an early age. She lost her brother when he stood up to the evil dictator. She lost her grandmother after she was essentially mind raped. She had to grow up hiding who she was because everyone with magical abilities (like being to see and talk to fairies) were rounded up and either killed or mind controlled to be a king’s soldier. And then her father decided to bet her virginity in a gambling match and lost!  And before Neryn can even think about how low her father has sunk, he’s killed too.
The girl literally only has fairies to talk to. And it’s no wonder she has serious trust issues with the one guy who seems so eager to help her. I loved the guy. And I loved the slow-building relationship between them. However, I did not love what felt like hundreds of pages of Neryn surviving (aka: freezing, practically dying of hunger, and limping) in the forest on her way to a possibly mythical rebel camp. That was hundreds of pages of suffering, where nothing really critical to the plot or substantial to the future parts of the story happened. It was like reading the camping scenes in the last Harry Potter book, all over again. We get it; traveling by yourself is hard. Could we have focused in on the quests and fairies and scary bridges to be crossed and deleted a lot of the lonely, kind of boring traveling?
I love how good of a person Neryn really is. And she’s smart too. I can’t believe how much she learned about her abilities in such a short period of time. However, there were some major things that took her way too long to catch up on. I get that she would have some serious trust issues (particularly after the incident with her father), but it took her so long to figure out Flint (the guy I love).
I loved the characters. The world Neryn lived in was both terrifying and beautiful. I loved the fairies that both believed in her and doubted her. I just was hoping for a little more romance and a little more action. It would have been nice with a little less redundant forest suffering, freezing cold nights, and hunger. I feel like all these things in YA are fine if there is a justified reason for them or if a character grows and learns form the experiences. This just seemed like an unnecessary evil. I give this one an 8/10.

No comments:

Post a Comment