Originally Reviewed at Witchmag's Boekenplank
To be honest the beautiful cover entranced me so much that I did not pass the blurb more than a glance before I asked to review this book on Netgalley. Only when I started reading I found out that this was already the fourth book in the series and remembered that I was not able to finish the first book. So I was a bit hesitant before I started. Would it be as bad as the first, or would I like it instead? Although some of my worst expectations were met, there were also times that I was pleasantly surprised with this book. At least it’s way better than Heartless and the book managed to capture my attention enough for me to finish it. Even though this book also had some nasty characters, who played a somewhat important role, they fortunately aren’t as prominently present in this book. It was easy for me to read past them and enjoy the book, which can easily be read without reading the other two.
The existence of Starflower helped a lot with me liking this book. She’s the only mortal in a diverse party of the most miraculous beings, The Wood and a River. She’s the one who always keeps her calm, at the times a certain cat is once again whining, and the times they are being chased. What I found the most extraordinary is that she completes everything without uttering a word. She became mute after the Evil God of her country cursed her and all the woman in her land. He made them unable to speak. Wow, at that moment my feminist heart made a very inappropriate gesture towards said god. What a harsh way to suppress woman! My feminist heart was also screaming with joy when Starflower decided to go and fight the Evil God. Revenge! Don’t you dare to look down on women!
I also was totally in love with the world where this story takes place. It’s full of magical creatures, some of which I’ve never heard of. We’ve got a real “breathing and thinking” Forest and River. There are faerie queens, enchanted frogs, and what not. This book gave me the feeling of entering a whole new amazing world where lots of fairy tales were mixed together and I enjoyed it tremendously ^^
That was what I loved about this book, now on to the less than stellar points. My first obstacle was a cat named Eanrin. I’ve never met anyone with this much ego. Must be his cat personality. And I was appalled at his prominent role in the story. I did not enjoy spending time with him. There’s also a rather vain character, the lovely *cough cough* lady Gleamdrené. I can’t even count the times I felt annoyed at their behavior. Fortunately, Eanrin was able to grow somewhat, able to learn a bit from his experiences. Or at least he managed to stop screaming like a girl and running away from fights.
Then there’s the story. Which was all over the place. Especially at the beginning I had trouble following the flow of the book. Whose viewpoint was I reading? Who are they talking about? Even if everything became clear after reading some more and at the end, I was sometimes too lost to understand even the slightest thing of what was happening. I was also not happy with how the story stopped halfway, at a very thrilling point, to explain how the events came to be, in detail. No fun! At life-death moments I don’t like to be left hanging like that and having to struggle through a lot of chapters before I get to know if everyone will be alright.
2 HEARTS. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The world-building is amazing, as is our strong but silent heroine. Unfortunately I didn’t like the rest of the story that much, with some annoying characters and a confusing and exhilarating story. Therefore not many hearts. But the cover is AMAZING!