Reading Level: Young Adult
Size: 416 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: eARC through Netgalley.com
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
I got a copy of this book to review through NetGalley(dot)com. I loved Marillier’s Sevenwater series and was so excited to read another series by Marillier. This book is beautifully written but the story moves slowly and was hard to stay engaged with. The second book in this series will be titled Raven Flight and is scheduled for a 2013 release.
Neryn is blessed/cursed with the ability to see the Good Folk. She is orphaned and all alone in the world, but gets caught up in a plot to save the kingdom of Alban from the evil King who rules it. Outside of the Good Folk her only friend is a mysterious man who has saved her life, but seems to have questionable allegiances. Will Neryn be able to help save Alban from its cursed king?
This book is written beautifully, the description is beautiful, and the landscape is beautiful. Neryn is peaceful and graceful, yet surprisingly tough….like many of Marillier’s heroines.
I loved watching Neryn struggle through trial after trial and loved her interactions with the Good Folk. The main thing I really didn’t enjoy about this novel was the pacing. The story moves so deliberately that at times I just lost interest. Right at the beginning of the book we know Neryn is trying to get to Shadowfell. By the end of the book she finally arrives there. The rest of the book is the story of her journey.
While Neryn’s journey does have some excitement to it, mostly it is just a story of survival. She spends long stretches of the book trying to stay warm and trying to find food. She also spends a long stretch of the book alone with her thoughts recuperating in a cabin after her illness. Parts of these stretches are filled with beautiful thoughts and language; but they also come off as a bit boring.
During these stretches Neryn is just too complacent; I just wanted her to do something to make her situation better and she just didn’t. Despite her resolve to reach Shadowfell she ends up becoming dependent on the Good Folk and the mysterious stranger. Her dependence on everyone else to survive and her lack of ability to take charge in any situation bothered me.
The book ends well enough, but as a reader we aren’t at a place that is all that far from where we started. I tried to think about what really had happened over the course of this book and there just isn’t much.
Overall an okay fantasy read, I had hoped for something more engaging and more moving though. Marillier writes beautifully and the story reads very poetically. The pacing is very deliberate though and left my attention wandering at times. Neryn is one of those peaceful but tough heroines in the beginning of the book, but as the story continues she becomes too complacent and dependent on those around her. I would tentatively recommend this book to fans of deliberately paced adventure/survival fantasies. I would strongly recommend reading Marillier’s Sevenwaters books first though; I thought those books were much better than this one.
This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
– 150+ Books Reading Challenge