I’m slightly tardy this week as I had 30 pages left in a book as of Monday and I wanted to include it in this wrap up. Without further ado let’s get into the pagey goodness.
Daughters of the Storm follows various members of a royal family. Very early on in the book we find that the king of Almissia has been taken quite ill and may be dying. His wife tries to keep this secret but word leaks out and someone sends for his eldest daughter, Bluebell. Bluebell is quite a fierce warrior and is extremely loyal to family. Since she fears that the king might die and that ehr stepmothe rmight have ahd something to do with the king’s illness she calls her 4 sisters home. They then set out on a journey to find the king’s sister, an undermagician, in an attempt to cure the king.
As the sisters journey we learn more about their lives as well as their relationship to one another. We also learn about Wylm, stepbrother and son to the current queen.
Bluebell probably has the most interesting story of the five sisters and seems to be the most fleshed out of the characters. She fully expects to be King (not queen, don’t make that mistake with her) after her father dies. She is fierce and loyal but frequently makes plans for her family without consulting their desires. We also hear her opinions about her sisters and they are not always favorable. Ash and Rose also have interesting life stories. Ash acts as mediator for various members of the family and apparently may have the biggest and most problematic destiny in her future. She realizes that she has powerful magical talents but is unable to control them. Rose was married to a man to cement relations between two kingdoms but has fallen in love with the king’s nephew. Her daughter may well be the most important thing in her life as she discovers at the end of this book. The two youngest sisters, Willow and in particular, Ivy, seem to be the least thought out of the sisters. Willow does provide the perspective of a convert to a new religion – the Trimartyrs. Her actions are motivated by her newly found religious beliefs. She hears voices, in this world she may really be hearing the voices of the gods or she may be slightly mad. As the sisters branch off from each other each of their lives changes, some quite profoundly. Wylm, the stepbrother, is also quite complex. He appears to be weak (in this world, in our world he would just be a gentle, kind man) and he covets power. I suspect he covets power more so that he will feel safe and not because he truly wants it. Bluebell and he are antagonists and Wylm is, deservedly so, quite frightened of Bluebell. Some of his actions are motivated by this fear including murder. Wylm shows a surprisingly sympathetic side when he chooses to keep and care for a blind, simple boy. This isn’t a fast paced novel but, overall, I found the sisters and their relationships with one another to be entertainment enough. The world building is slight and the author assumes that readers are familiar with the trope of feudal kingdoms.
I’m looking forward to reading the second. I am hoping that the younger sisters in particular will become more fully realized. Ash is my favorite of the sisters so I expect great things in the next installment!
Why did I read so long to read book 2, why? The first novel in the series must be read to understand what is going on in this one. Read the goodreads synopsis if you want to know more about A Shadow Bright and Burning, the first in the series. My thoughts are for Poison Dark and Drowning only. I loved this instalment. It does not suffer from sophomore slump. Stakes are raised quite a bit – Rook is still veering toward the dark side. Henrietta is still keeping this a secret from everyone else and she keeps fighting for the person she now admits to loving. She also continues to practice her magician skills and a new character is introduced, Maria Templeton. I cannot say much about her without spoilers other than she is a healer and she is trying to help Henrietta and Rook. We also find out quite a bit more about Blackwood’s father and R’hlem. The 7 ancients are becoming more relentless and are having a grand old time destroying various English cities. There are so many great action scenes. One of the most vivid for me was the fight with Nemneris (sp) the great water spider. There is lots of action in this book and I loved every minute of it. As an aside here, I think this may be the first YA novel in which I sense a debt to Lovecraft. I could be wrong but any one of the ancients would fit well with Lovecraft’s creatures. The author paints things so vividly that I wanted to keep reading way past my bedtime. This is also a YA novel where I think the various potential love entanglements worked. They didn’t seem forced to me and I could understand why the only young lady in the Sorcerers circle might incite thoughts of love. I am very excited to read the last book in the series.
My only disappointment for last week was Ash Princess. I’d like to say a little bit about the narration as I listened to this on audio. While the narrator was fine and I would definitely listen to her narrate other books but… she sounded a little too old to be playing a teenager. There are lots of great narrators that sound younger and I think it would have been helpful to hear a younger sounding narrator.
As for the story itself, the plot is familiar – teenage girl must save her world, there is going to be a love interest, and so on. Sometimes reading a book with a familiar plot can be comforting, much like putting on a warm comfy robe. You don’t expect a lot other than a satisfying read. Conversely it may also be like noticing that your comfy robe has holes that you just can’t ignore anymore. If I were still a teen I would probably have enjoyed but not been overwhelmed by Ash Princess. However, as an adult, I keep noticing the loose threads and holes in the story.
Perhaps one of my biggest complaints was the lack of certain, to me, vital facts. Throughout the book we learn that the gems give power to certain individuals. Blaise (childhood friend and crush #1), for example can cause earthquakes. So I would have liked a little background, did the guardians, those who could control the gems power, put up a fight when the Kalovaxions came and if so what happened?
Some of the plot also didn’t make sense. At about mid book Blaise decides that Thora’s friend Cress and her father the Thane need to be killed.
Killing Cress makes no sense, and Theodosa (Thora) rightly points out that since an Astrean poison is being used that she will be the primary suspect and the Kaiser might very well kill her. At this stage of the book there is no escape plan discussed after Theo does the poisoning.
My final wish would have been that Theodosa would have been more complexly drawn. We are also told that Thora has been tortured and beaten since she was six years old so I wanted to experience some real character building. Instead Thora suddenly turns into Theodosia (I will save my people) after she kills the man who probably was her father. Someone who has to be beaten down for so long suddenly grows a spine. Wouldn’t it have been more interesting for her to have gradually, painfully and fearfully become the savior of her people? I think so. The adult me also did not care for the awkward insta love Theo had for both the Prinz and Blaise at all.
The teenage me probably would have enjoyed the romantic possibilities though me being me even at that age would have gone for Erik, The Prinz’ half brother. I also would have enjoyed the heck out of the descriptions of the clothing and would have loved to have had Cress, literature translating, reader girl, as my friend. Unlike Theo though I could not have conceived of killing her.
I’m afraid this particular YA fantasy just wasn’t for me. Many other readers really enjoyed it though. If you’ve read it what did you think?
Happy almost spring reading week, ya’ll.