Reading level: Young adult
Size: 384 pages
Publisher: Terabyte Press
Release Date: April 3rd, 2012
Stand Alone or Series: 1st in a series?
Source: eARC through NetGalley.com
Rating: 3/5 stars
I got an advanced reading copy of this book through NetGalley.com. It started out wonderfully and I really enjoyed the first portion of the book. As the book progressed though the story started to drag and I began to just want the story to be done with. This is a young adult/middle grade fantasy.
Catherine is being forced to marry the king of a nearby kingdom in an arranged marriage. She flees only to stumble upon a 732 year old Farrier cat that tells her that she is the heir to the Ancient Onyxes and is destined to save the kingdom from certain destruction.
I really enjoyed the beginning of this book. Pokos is the farrier cat and has a wonderfully dry sense of humor. Although it was a bit strange that he befriends Catherine by eating her beloved horse. Despite that I was looking forward to this being a wonderful YA fantasy somewhat in the style of McKinely’s Hero and the Crown and Tamora Pierce’s works.
Catherine starts off as pretty selfish; she wants to flee the kingdom because of an arranged marriage. I can understand that. As the story unfolds though you find out that she didn’t really know much about the marriage. She didn’t know who the guy was, had never meet him, and didn’t really talk to her dad, the King, about why he wanted her to marry him. I was hoping that Catherine would grow into a benevolent Queen who would really show what she had learned on her journey; she grows a little but continues to make narrow-minded and selfish decisions throughout.
As the story continues even Pokos comes off as selfish; he seems to want to find other Farrier cats to ease his loneliness…the fact that it will save the kingdom is secondary.
Catherine does meet the King of the neighboring kingdom and you can guess what happens when she does. It is incredibly predictable. The romance between Catherine and the King is of the sweet and innocent kind; making this a book appropriate for middle grade and older readers.
The later part of the book had Catherine and crew running around and doing one thing after another. It was all predictable and got to be a bit lengthy; I kept hoping for surprises and never really got them. By the second half of the book I just wanted to be done with it. I guess the only thing that was surprising was the horrible enemy which was totally not what I thought it was going to be.
There are some creative things in here (I loved the idea of Candlewax trees) but mostly I think older readers will be bored with the predictability. The story was wrapped up fairly completely, although there are couple loose threads that would need to be tied up in future books. The writing style is fairly simple, again targeted at a younger audience I guess.
Overall this was an okay book. It is a pretty average middle grade fantasy with a touch of romance. The story line has been done many times before: girl runs away from arranged marriage, meets the guy she was supposed to marry, falls in love, save the kingdom, the end. I would tentatively recommend this for fans of Robin McKinley’s Hero and the Crown and Tamora Pierce’s works. I personally won’t be reading any more in this series.