Tag Archives: fairytales

” Eat some more tarts and go pet your horse Feyre, this is as good as it’s going to get for you”

urlOk so I warned you that I’d be reviewing about fifty Beauty and the Beast knockoffs.  I mean that in a loving way, Sarah J Maas–I’ve been looking forward to your novel–A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Feyre lives in a cottage in the woods with her pretty useless dad and 2 older useless sisters.  Because of a promise to her (dead) useless mother, and a crippling sense of duty, Feyre spends most of her time Katniss-style, shooting stuff in the woods with arrows.

Not too far from her home looms the wall separating the humans and the fairies.  Fairies around these parts are nasty, scary, magical beings that you do not want to play with.  When Feyre shoots a wolf in the woods that evening, she tries to tell herself it’s just a wolf, not a fairy in disguise, even though she purposefully uses an ash arrow (their only weakness).

Unsurprisingly for plot purposes, the wolf was a fairy.  When a frightening beast creature comes to claim her life, Feyre must choose between her death or living forever with him on his estate.  Grudgingly she chooses to leave her life of drudgery with her horrible, ungrateful family and follow the beastie into the woods.

When they arrive at his estate Feyre’s beastie turns into a beautiful dude wearing a mask.  His name is Tamlin, and he and the rest of his court were cursed at a party that has left them all wearing their masks permanently.  Feyre’s only role in her new home apparently is to eat a lot of food and dress nicely.

I can understand not wanting to live forever in a magical world where everything can kill you, your host is prone to fits of rage, and you’re bored out of your mind–but I don’t understand Feyre’s longing to return to her family.  They really sucked.  Eat some more tarts and go pet your horse Feyre, this is as good as it’s going to get for you.

Tamlin is determinedly close-mouthed about what’s wrong with the fairies, why he is wearing a mask all the time, and why Feyre can never return home.  Despite the fact that Feyre is there for murdering one of his buddies, he’s pretty pleasant to her.  We all know where this is headed but I feel like the author rushes it.  One moment Feyre is raging about being trapped with rude horrible fairies and the next she’s skinnydipping with one.  Nothing really happens in the interim that makes that feel natural.  For instance, no one builds Feyre a gorgeous library because she’s illiterate (FINALLY FINALLY an illiterate character, I was literally just pining for one two posts ago).

However, even if the transition is worked a bit awkwardly, Tamlin and Feyre are coyly flirting all over the place before you know it.  But the bad fairies keep encroaching on Tamlin’s territories and something bad is clearly going on–though no one will explain it to Feyre.  After a particularly bad event, Tamlin decides to ship Feyre back to human-land.

When Tamlin took her, he brainwashed her family into thinking she was caring for their aunt, and also reinstated all their former wealth.  Despite all her earlier bitching about missing her family, Feyre is only back a day before she’s complaining about being with them.

Finally getting wise to the overarching plot of her storyline, Feyre realizes that by leaving Tamlin she left him in danger.  She finds her way back to his estate only to find it abandoned.  One of the servants explains to her the fairy curse, why Tamlin brought her there, and where he is now.

Let me take a moment to tell you HOW specific this fairy curse is.  Like, if someone put a curse on my husband that only a stretch-marked thirty-year old with hip dysplasia, a dachshund, and a dinosaur tattoo could break.

Anyway, despite being told it’s hopeless, Feyre finds the Queen of Bad Fairies (not her real name) and makes a deal to rescue Tamlin. He’ll be freed if she can complete 3 trials set before her OR by answering a riddle the Queen gives her.  I don’t want to spoil the ending but I will just say–the riddle is pretty obvious.  Like even for me and I suck at riddles.

Despite some plot pain points I’ve mentioned above, I really enjoyed this twist on Beauty and the Beast. Supposedly it’s going to be a series, but it is able to stand on it’s own as well.


My, What Big Genetically Engineered Teeth You Have!

Warning: I will be spoiling plot points from Cinder, the first book in the series, with reckless abandon.

Scarlet lunar coverWhen we last saw our fair cyborg Cinderella, she had been thrown in jail after crashing Emperor Kai’s fancy ball. She was there to warn him that evil Moon Queen Levana planned on murdering him when/if they wed as a first step to world domination. Then while she’s waiting to be executed, Cinder learns that she’s actually the long-lost Princess Selene, the niece that Levana tried to get rid of by SETTING HER ON FIRE. Just in case you didn’t think she was evil enough. Because Cinder is the true heir to the Lunar throne, Levana wants her dead STAT, so Cinder resolves to break out of prison.

In Scarlet (Feiwel and Friends 2013), the second book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder uses her newly discovered Jedi Mind Trick powers to break out of prison. She takes her fellow prisoner, Captain Carswell Thorne, with her because he has a ship and he just happens to be there. More on him later. So the two of them along with Cinder’s beloved android, Iko (who’s salvaged personality chip is deposited in an unconventional vessel), become the most wanted fugitives on the planet. Queen Levana is furious about Cinder’s escape and threatens to declare war on Earth. Cinder is supposed to meet up with fellow Lunar refugee, Dr. Erland, in Africa, but she’s sick of having to follow other people’s orders and decides to track down the people who brought her to Earth in order to find out more about her past.

Halfway across the world we have Scarlet Benoit, a sassy French farm girl who’s beloved grandmother has suddenly gone missing. The police have closed the case, but Scarlet knows that her grandmother would never take off without telling her. When Scarlet’s suspicions that her grandmother has been kidnapped are confirmed, she enlists the help of Wolf, the new rough and tumble street fighter in town, to help rescue her grandmother. Along the way Scarlet learns shocking secrets about Wolf, her grandmother, and her own history. Scarlet and Cinder’s stories alternate throughout the novel until the two come together for an explosive and revelatory climax. But not in a dirty way.

Like rhymenocerous noted in her review of Cinder, none of the twists in Scarlet are particularly surprising if you have any familiarity with the source material or have ever read a dystopian novel. However, author Marissa Meyer’s execution of the story makes what could’ve been tired material feel fresh. The tight writing (even at 400+ pages), the quick pacing, and solid characterization make for a real page-turner. I was annoyed when I had to stop reading in order to do mundane things like go to the office.

Both Cinder and Scarlet make strong female main characters. I actually liked Cinder more in this one because she was a lot less victimy than in the first book. It’s not Meyer’s fault because original Cinderella is a pretty passive character in the first place, but in Scarlet, Cinder gets to take action and make choices about her own life. Scarlet comes close to “too stupid to live” territory at times (seriously, perhaps you should have a plan before rushing in to rescue your grandmother), but she’s also tough and not afraid to stand up for herself or others. Both characters are the damsels in distress at times, but they also take their turns doing the rescuing, which is awesome. My favorite character though was Captain Carswell Thorne because he’s one of my favorite types of characters: the charming rogue. He reminds me a bit of Han Solo, if Han Solo was a bit of a dandy. Seriously, Thorne was in solitary confinement because he had led the prison population in a soap rebellion. His skin is sensitive you know. I’ve heard he has a bigger part in the third book, which makes me happy.

Speaking of the third book, in addition to continuing the ongoing storylines, it’s supposed to be a retelling of Rapunzel and we have to wait until 2014 to read it. Booooooo!

Furries and Killer Unicorns–What I’m Looking for in YA Fiction

Jacob Reckless is pretty pissed that his father has abandoned him, his mother, and younger brother.  Understandably so, since his mother is sick, and his brother is kind of a wuss and follows him around all the time.  Jacob is sure that he can find a clue in his father’s study that will help him understand—but finding a mirror that leads to another world wasn’t what he expected.

Paperback cover

We aren’t privy to the details of the next several years, but it’s safe to say that Jacob spends more time in the mirror than in his actual reality.  So it should come as no surprise to him when Will follows him through the mirror and into the fairytale world.  We haven’t learned much about either one of the characters at this point, but even so it’s pretty apparent that Will is a drip.   True to character, he gets seriously injured in about ten seconds.  And it’s not a good, normal injury, where you could just use some ace bandages.  Nope, Will has been fatally scratched by a Goyle—a race of men made out of stone.  Now, unless Jacob finds a cure (hint, there isn’t one) his brother will become a Goyle himself, forgetting his former life and living only to kill humans and mine precious rocks.

Meanwhile, the Goyle’s king, Kami’en, instructs his number one soldier, Hentzau, to find Will (obvi he doesn’t call him by his name).  Kami’en’s mistress, the Dark Fairy, dreamed that there was a human turning into a jade Goyle, who would make the king immortal.

Events are further complicated by the arrival of Will’s girlfriend, Clara, who somehow finds her way through the mirror.  Saddled with his useless-turning-to-stone brother, said bro’s gf, and his best friend, Fox (she is literally a fox, except for sometimes when she is a girl.  I picture her as sort of a Furry) Jacob leads a quest to find a cure for Will.  The best part of this book is the assortment of fairytale paraphernalia that creeps up.  In this world, Jacob is a treasure hunter, and he regularly goes on quests to find things like glass slippers or magic keys.  Funke embraces all that is macabre and disturbing about fairytales—the witches that eat children, the trees that will grab you if you get too close, or most terrifying, the Tailor, who’s hands are made of scissors and needles, and who makes his clothes from his victims skin.   The world beyond the mirror, is a magic world where everything can kill you (there are even killer unicorns, which I know my fellow bloggers here at Rampant are particularly fond of).

Hardcover edition: I'm glad they changed the cover--I would have never picked this up.

Jacob is single-minded in his task to reclaim his brother, even after Will turns completely Goyle and starts beating him up, or after Jacob is attacked by snakes or tortured by scorpions.  That kind of devotion is hard to find, especially when you are jonesing after your brother’s girl (I don’t understand why Jacob would choose a nurse over a shape-shifting fox, but then again, the fox might be thirteen, and Jacob might be thirty, the ages are never mentioned and the details in that department are a little too vague for me to decipher).  Regardless, Jacob manages to turn his brother back, and return him and Clara back to the mirror.  Unfortunately, in the next book, he better find a cure for himself, or he’ll die within the year.  Exciting!  Also, we find out that his father taught the Goyle most of what they know about engineering, weaponry, etc.    So I’m guessing that his father is still alive somewhere in this land and Jacob will meet him again.   Funke hasn’t revealed the sequel date or any info yet, so I’ll just have to wait.  And probably read a lot of Boxcar Children in the interim.