Book Review: The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

8685612Title: The Iron Queen (Iron Fey #3)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Genre: Fantasy, Faeries, Young Adult, Iron Fey
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Rating: 5 stars
Review copy purchased through Book Depository.

My name is Meghan Chase.

I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who’s sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I’m not sure anyone can survive it.

This time, there will be no turning back.

Read my reviews for The Iron King, Winter’s Passage and The Iron Daughter.

At the beginning of The Iron Queen, we find Meghan and the love of her life, Prince Ash, both exiled from the Nevernever for following their hearts and falling in love with each other. Unfortunately for Meghan and Ash, their trials are not yet over, as the Iron Fey attack them even while on earth. Oberon and Mab – King of Summer and Queen of Winter, former enemies, and now forced allies, see no other choice but to pardon their wayward children and to request for them to save the Nevernever one more time. When Ash and Meghan agree, they do not realise that the perils that await them in the land of the Iron fey will be even greater than they have anticipated, and the disaster they will encounter will be something even they might not overcome. With the army of the Iron fey marching towards the territories of Summer and Winter, and the fate of the entire Nevernever on the line, Meghan must find a strength within herself she hardly knew she had.

As of now, I’m officially not Team Ash or Team Puck anymore. I’m Team Meghan ftw! The way that girl has grown from a regular, somewhat shy and insecure teenage girl into the single most courageous, determined, intelligent and honest creature walking the Nevernever, is simply amazing. Gone is the love-struck half-faery we see at the beginning of The Iron Daughter, long forgotten is the girl who had no money to buy decent clothes and was the laughing stock of high school. Meet Meghan Chase – daughter of King Oberon, Princess to the Nevernever, and the most dangerous opponent the Iron Fey could possibly face. She is willful, strong, independent, but without ever losing her charming personality, and all the reasons why she’s still human and only a teenage girl. She literally and figuratively kicks ass in this novel, and it was a pleasure to witness.

But Ash, my poor little Ash, what the heck happened to you? You just went from being one of the most interesting, charming, distant and icey Princes of the Faerie Realm and then you turned into a…love-struck teenager? I don’t know exactly why – I mean, I do support Meghan/Ash – but the latter just can’t play the role of Meghan’s boyfriend and still be an interesting character with a dark edge. Gone, dark edge. And that leaves him rather one-dimensional, flat, and not all that interesting. With the dissapearance of the love triangle, and Meghan’s firm choice for Ash, there was a huge romance plot missing in this novel. Ash and Meghan were interesting…until they started dating. Now I’m wondering whether or not they’ll watch a movie together sometime, snuggling in front of a TV screen and perhaps worrying about daily chores or homework. WRONG. That’s not what I want to think about when I imagine a Summer Princess and a Winter Prince! And yet, somehow I did…it’s like Meghan/Ash lost all their magic once they actually got together.

Once again, Julie Kagawa’s world-building is exquisite, her characterization brilliant, her writing style excellent. The Iron Queen pulled me in from page one, and left me breathless till I turned the last page and read the ending. Spellbinding, fascinating, amazing, and the best ending to one of the most magnificent, original and well-written young adult fantasy series currently available. Here I was, thinking it couldn’t get any better, and then it did.

Book Review: The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

7747064Title: The Iron Daughter (Iron Fey #2)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Faeries, Young Adult
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Review copy purchased in through BookDepository.
Rating: 4 stars

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan’s own fey powers have been cut off. She’s stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can’t help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.

The Iron Daughter continues the story where The Iron King left off (or Winter’s Passage if you will), with Meghan being forced to go to the Unseelie Court of the Winter Queen Mab, and possibly suffer horrendeous torture at the hands of her father’s enemy. However, Meghan soon finds out that the vengeance of Queen Mab is the least of her worries, as one of the Unseelie Princes betrays his own kingdom, kills the heir to the Winter Throne, and reveals to be working for the Iron King. On top of all that, it appears that the Iron fey have got their hands on the Scepter of Seasons. Naturally, Mab believes Oberon has stolen the scepter, and decides to full-on attack him rather than believe her youngest son’s theory about the existence of Iron fey. Now Summer and Winter are at war, and it’s up to Ash and Meghan – again – to retreive the Scepter from the Iron fey, to settle the peace between the two Courts and to prevent an upcoming attack from the Iron fey.

The Iron Daughter is a solid, fast-paced adventure which, once again, showcases Julie Kagawa’s phenomenal world-building skills and her ability to make likeable, funny characters with distinct qualities and interesting personalities. I have to say that, after reading The Iron Daughter, I am even more impressed by Julie’s world-building skills. She crafts the Nevernever out of basically nothing (although slightly based on century-old stories about the faerie world like Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or based on well-known faerie lore) and she does so in a most amazing fashion. The world she creates is interesting, innovative, vast and at all times surprising. From the gorgeous palace of Summer Court to the icy fields of Winter and the iron dominating the Iron Kingdom, her world is ever-changing and evolving, growing if you may, much like a real world. As as the world she describes expands and grows, so do her characters.

Whereas in The Iron King I thought Puck was often portrayed as being a one-dimensional character with an uncomprehendable interest in Meghan’s welfare (he loves her…but why?), the habit of causing trouble to the point of his occassional duels with Icey Boy, we now see a whole new side of him. We discover why Puck loves Meghan, and how far he is willing to go to prove that point, and to protect her. He grows from a rather one-dimensional character to a three-dimensional person with his own fair share of fears, emotions and hopes. There’s a scene with Puck and Meghan in this book, that nearly made me jump over from Team Ash to Team Puck. I think it’s safe to say though that Julie Kagawa prefers Ash, since he gets more pages, and a lot more love through-out the series than Puck ever does. However, although I do root for Ash and Meghan to be the ‘endgame’ couple, as you may call it, I would like to see Puck and Meghan happen sometime, and I would like Puck to have a fair chance. It’s about time that Meghan seems him for who he really is – he is, after all, the one who betrayed his Kingdom for her, whereas Ash is still obeying Mab’s orders like a sad little puppy in the beginning of this novel.

Thank god and all the saints in heaven, that Grimalkin is back. Always ready to make a sly remark, or to humor us with his witty sarcasm towards feeble humans and love-struck faerieis. Without Grimalkin, The Iron Fey series would definately be a lot less interesting. If Grimalkin was a human, Puck and Ash wouldn’t stand a chance, and I’d be Team Grimalkin all the way. Too bad cats cannot miraculously change into human shape, or aren’t disguises for ordinary, but very powerful faeries. Oh well, I guess we’ll have to find a very nice-looking, equally charming female cat to accompany our beloved Grimalkin. I can only hope that he makes an appearance in The Iron Queen as well.

Prince Ash was trying so hard to be as icey and cold as always through-out the first part of this novel, and failed miserably every time. As I already stated in my review of The Iron King, I would have liked it if the relationship between Meghan and Ash had not blossomed so soon, and if they had gotten a bit more time to get to trust each other first. Kisses, embraces and other snuggling could have waited till this novel, in my opinion – and to be honest, for a Winter Prince, Ash really isn’t all that icey, hard-to-get or distant. I thought the visit to the Winter Prom at Meghan’s old school was particularly hilarious, especially with all the human girls swooning over Ash, and Meghan’s old crush inviting her to a party – for the first time in her life! However, I thought it was quite ridiculous as well. Really? Prince Ash needs a lot of glamour and suddenly everyone thinks about the Winter Prom? Why not just go to a club, or something? And why those ridiculous costumes? When the book mentioned that Ash was dressed in white – yes, white, oh the horror – with a coloured tie (I forgot the color, but it seemed insanely ugly at the moment) I thought I was either quite disturbed to imagine such things, or I had been transported to a very horrible alternate reality. Unfortunately for me, neither of these assumptions were true and indeed, Julie Kagawa, makes Ash look like the mere representation of everything a Winter Prince is NOT supposed to be. Thank god my imagination skills were powerful enough to imagine Ash in something else – a black suit, for instance.

I disliked Meghan in this novel. I liked her throughout Iron King, I liked her progress, how she gradually changed from an insecure and scared teenage girl into a real Summer Princess, filled with enough courage and determination to withstand even the Iron King. However, she seemed to have temporarily lost all her wit, charm, intelligence and courage in the first hundred-or-so pages of this book. Rather than worrying about her own well-being, or about finding a way out of the Winter Court – or anything to escape, for that matter – she is constantly weeping over the fact that Ash is treating her badly. What do you want the guy to do? Admit to the entire Court that he’s in love with a half Summer Princess, half human, most probably making both himself and Meghan the subject of Mab’s wrath by doing so? Although it sounds ridiculous, that appears to be exactly what Meghan wants. She’s even surprised when he calls her the ‘half blood’ or ‘human’ or says he doesn’t want anything to do with her, although he warned her time and time again in the Iron King and Winter’s Passage that he would have no choice but to treat her this way. Really Meghan, are you dense? Or have you watched too much Twilight, and decided to take on the role of Bella Swan for a change?

Luckily for us, Meghan loses her Bella Swan attitude gradually throughout the second part of the novel. The suspense rises as the trio (yes, of course Puck is back) and charming Grimalkin go on another journey to retreive the Scepter of Seasons. From that point on, the pace picks up, the chase is back on, and Meghan slowly becomes an interesting, relatable and intelligent heroine again. As she did in her previous novel, Julie Kagawa once again ends in style, leaving her readers to anxiously anticipate her next novel in the series. The Iron Daughter is a worthy successor to The Iron King, although I must admit I liked the latter more.

Book Review: Winter’s Passage by Julie Kagawa

8070049Title: Winter’s Passage (Iron Fey #1.5)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Genre: Young Adult, Faeries, Fantasy
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Rating: 3 stars
Review copy downloaded for free from the Harlequin website.
Goodreads

Meghan Chase used to be an ordinary girl…until she discovered that she is really a faery princess. After escaping from the clutches of the deadly Iron fey, Meghan must follow through on her promise to return to the equally dangerous Winter Court with her forbidden love, Prince Ash. But first, Meghan has one request: that they visit Puck–Meghan’s best friend and servant of her father, King Oberon–who was gravely injured defending Meghan from the Iron Fey.

Yet Meghan and Ash’s detour does not go unnoticed. They have caught the attention of an ancient, powerful hunter–a foe that even Ash may not be able to defeat….

An eBook exclusive story from Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series.

Read my review of The Iron King, the previous book in the series.

Winter’s Passage picks up exactly where The Iron King left off, with the handsome and darkly charming Prince Ash escorting the Half-Summer Princess Meghan Chase through the realm of the Nevernever and into the lair of Queen Mab, the Unseelie Court. However, before they begin their journey back to the freakingly cold winter-world, Meghan forces Prince Ash to do one last thing, namely pay a visit to her best friend, Puck (aka Robin Goodfellow) who got seriously injured during their previous fight with the Iron Fey. Although a detour wasn’t exactly what the chilly prince had planned, he does give his consent. That was before he knew the thing that was chasing them though, The Hunter, a century-old creature so powerful even Ash might be unable to defeat it. And amidst of all this running away from scary creatures, sword-wielding heroes and practically immortal foes, Meghan and Ash still have to admit they have feelings for each other.

I did enjoy reading Winter’s Passage, although I thought it was a bit short (probably got something to do with the fact it’s an ebook novella :P) and I probably finished reading it in fifteen or so minutes. It was fun to travel back to the briefly familiar territory covered in The Iron King, to catch up with Meghan and Ash, and to take another look on dear old Puck. The adventure with The Hunter chasing Ash and Meghan was entertaining as well, although I must admit I’ve grown a bit tired with the loop those two seem to be stuck in. Either it’s chasing something or someone – from a missing brother to a scepter to each other – or being chased by something rather dangerous. With The Iron Fey novels, I constantly have the feeling that I’m running along with the characters, and there’s never time to sit back and relax, or to talk about funny things like feelings, emotions and heartbreak. It’s a bit exhausting to read really.

I liked it that Winter’s Passage does stop on emotions for once, and gives us a greater insight in what the characters are thinking. Ash because an even more complex and multifaceted characters as he is faced with the conflicting desires of love and loyalty. We also see a greater glimpse of Meghan’s feelings, and learn that this might not simply be a teenage crush on a handsome faery prince. I’ve always liked the dynamics of Meghan/Ash (although I have to admit I’m not entirely opposed against Puck as well) and I’m glad the veil got lifted, albeit only a little bit, and I got a better understanding of both of these characters.

Don’t read Winter’s Passage unless you read The Iron King, or if you feel like taking a glimpse of Julie Kagawa’s writing style first before focusing on the trilogy itself. Personally, I don’t think it’s Julie’s best writing – she has a lot more skill producing a novel than a novella, in my opinion – but it’s a nice bridge between The Iron King and The Iron Daughter, it’s a very fast read, and you’ll see some more of the characters you’ve grown to love. Plus, you know, there’s Ash, and he’s always a bonus.

Book Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

6644117Title: The Iron King (The Iron Fey #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Genre: Fantasy, Faeries, Young Adult, Supernatural
Buy this novel: Book Depository.
Rating: 5 stars

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…
Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.
But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

The Iron King focuses on the persona of Meghan Chase, a sixteen-year-old girl whose father dissapeared years ago, and who now lives in the country with her Mom, stepfather and little brother Ethan. With her ragged clothes and her parent’s pigfarm business, Meghan is the laughing stock of the entire school. Fortunately, she has one friend who supports her through all of this: Robbie Goodfell. On her sixteenth birthday however, weird things are starting to happen. For instance, Robbie is behaving strangely, her younger brother Ethan seems possessed by some alien creature, and she sees images of a tall and handsome boy on a horse. It is only when Robbie explains to her, that Meghan realises what has truly happened. Her younger brother was kidnapped by the faeries, and they put a changeling in her home instead. And her best friend since forever, Robbie Goodfell, is in fact no one other than Robin Goodfellow aka Puck, the famous and mischevious fairy from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Determined to find Ethan and return him home safely, Meghan and Puck travel to the Never Never. But like travelling to the wildfey area isn’t hard enough, they are being chased by the tall and handsome stranger, who turns out to be none other than the Winter Prince, Ash. He and Puck have an old feud going on, and unfortunately for her, Meghan is stuck in the middle of all of it.

Like that isn’t bad enough, something else is threatening the Never Never as well. Something dark, powerful and destructive. Something that took her brother. And it will take all of their combined forces to find out what, and to defeat it.

I have to admit that I’m not usually one to jump on the big-hype-bandwagon. I’m not the kind of person who likes something simply because everyone and their pet chihuahua likes it. If anything, the more hype there is about something, the more reluctant I am to join in and add my own fangirlness as well. I felt the same way with the Harry Potter books, until I read them and fell in love. I also felt the exact same way about the whole Twilight issue, until I read the novels and made my own opinion – I’m still not very fond of them, but I can see their appeal – and I had the exact same problem with The Iron Fey Series. I was curious to read the series because everyone talked about it, the covers looked gorgeous, and faeries were a new and foreign supernatural species to me. I wasn’t all that much into faeries when I was younger, and even in my teenage years I couldn’t possibly imagine anyone could write a novel aimed at a young adult audience themed around fairyworld. Apparently it can be done, and it can be done in such a fashion that I’m totally swept off my feet and impressed beyond belief.

To my utmost shame, I must admit that I’ve never read Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream before. I did watch a TV movie based on it once, but that’s a far distant memory as well. Had I perhaps read faerielore before indulging into this novel, I would have realised that there’s a great difference between Tinkerbell, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and the actual fairyworld of the Never Never and The Seelie and Unseelie Courts. In all honesty, I was even more intrigued by the lore behind the story, and the use of ancient tales about the Summer and Winter Courts, Queen Titania and Queen Mab, and King Oberon, than I was with the actual storyline and characters. I felt like this whole new world had opened to me, and it was all the more real because it hadn’t entirely sprung from the imagination of the author herself, but was based on several legends regarding supernatural beings, and a centuries-old but still very famous poem by none other than the great Shakespeare himself. If that isn’t impressive, then I don’t know what it is anymore.

I loved all of the characters. But literally, all of them. I loved Meghan’s personality, strong and determined albeit a bit naive and often finding herself in need of assistance. She is, after all, only sixteen years old, and not a trained swordfighter or accomplished trickster, so naturally she often needs others to help her acheive her goals. Of course I fell in love with the Winter Prince, Ash, as well. Handsome and stunning, cold and distant yet passionate and caring. How one person can hold so many emotions, is still a big question mark for me, but I loved him for every single emotion he had. As far as Prince Charmings go, he really is an exceptional one. I liked Puck as a character as well, although I have to admit that having him transferred from this sort of mythical hero to a teenage boy in love with our heroine, was a bit much to take in at first. On the other hand, it was quite the original thought, and I thoroughly enjoyed his jokes, pranks and protectiveness over Meghan.

On the downside: I knew from the start that there was going to be a love triangle, but I felt dissapointed when it didn’t really evolve in this book. We see glimpses of Puck expressiing his love for Meghan, or showing it in extremely obvious ways, but we never get an idea of how she feels about him. Are they just friends, or is there something more? Also, I thought that the love affair between Meghan and Ash developed a bit too fasty for my liking, and I wouldn’t have shed a tear had they waiting with their mutual lovey-dovey confessions until book two in the series. It even seemed a bit out of character to me. I can perfectly understand why Meghan would take a fancy to Ash – I would have done exactly the same, without a shadow of a doubt – but I couldn’t quite grasp the fact that he is interested in her too, right from the start. I mean, he IS the Winter Prince, cold and distant by nature, and she IS the Summer Princess, half-human on top of that, and best friends with his nemesis. It doesn’t exactly make her the most desirable person in the world, now does it? I can’t imagine him giving in to his feelings for her just like that, and I was a bit dissapointed that he did.

Do you want to know who my favorite character is? Grimalkin, of course. Funny, witty, sarcastic, cynical, answering all questions with “I’m a cat” and striking deals whenever he sees an advantage, what’s not to like? I also couldn’t help but feel like behind that non-caring attitude, there was a very caring, friendly and charming…cat.

From the moment Puck and Meghan step into the Never Never, I was hooked. The first hundred pages may not have totally convinced me, but the story afterwards did. I loved the way Julie Kagawa described both kingdoms, how she potrayed Lord Oberon and Queen Titania, how she made the throne room come to life on those very pages of this book. I was amazed, enthralled, paralyzed and of course, forced to continue reading. Then, as Meghan’s adventures begin, and she’s being chased by all sorts of magical creatures as she tries to find her brother, I was thoroughly amused. It felt sort of like those classic quest storylines, but with new and original ideas woven into it.

Something that annoyed me though, was the similarity between both courts. I was given to understand that The Summer Court, albeit michevious and not-all-that-good-hearted towards humans, was the ‘good’ court, whereas The Winter Court is seen as malevolent and wicked. I didn’t get that impression while reading this novel, especially because the personalities of Queen Titania and Queen Mob are very much alike. Both are cruel, hot-headed and egocentric. I would have liked to see a clearer distinction between the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ court.

In short, The Iron King is everything I couldn’t have dreamed it would be: fast-paced, original, imaginative, creative, with interesting and lovable characters, a plotline that keeps you glued to your seat, and most impressive world-building. Julie Kagawa is a true artist at crafting and creating scenery for her characters to play in, from enchanted forests to gigantic throne rooms to cozy cottages and icey fields. I can’t wait to read The Iron Daughter – literallly, I have it here with me right now, and I feel like dropping everything, including work for university, to start reading! – and find out what happens to Meghan next. If you haven’t read The Iron King yet, then it’s about time. You’re missing out on the faerie book of the century.

Book Review: Glimmer by Vivi Anna

10579642Title: Glimmer
Author: Vivi Anna
Genre: Novella, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Faeries, Werewolves, Adult
Rating: 2 stars
Review copy provided by Bewitching Book Tours.
Goodreads | Author’s Website

Although Nina Decker’s father is one hundred percent human, her mother is not. She belongs to an ancient and rare race of people called the fae. But these fae are not those written about in fairytales, with pretty gossamer wings and fairy dust, no they are sinister, malevolent and unkind, dwelling in another realm called Nightfall. More prone to destroy than to create. Abandoned at the age of ten, to be raised by her father, Nina has never forgiven her mother for that or for ruining her father. A man of only sixty, he appears to be closer to eighty with a frail body and mind. He’s been fae-struck and is slowly fading away to nothing. This is one of the reasons why Nina has never gotten too close to any one man. She doesn’t want to seal his fate like her father’s has been.
But she can’t deny her fiery connection to Severin Saint Morgan, a sexy as hell werewolf and the alpha of the Vancouver wolf pack. He’s an Australian immigrant working at the university as an associate professor, and the publicized face of the werewolf species. He makes her blood boil with desire and makes her tremble with fear. But its only when her mother reappears with startling revelations about an upcoming war between the fae and the werewolves that Nina realizes that she may be a pawn for both sides.

Glimmer is a novella-length paranormal romance/urban fantasy novel about a half fae, half human woman named Nina Deckers. Nurse by trade, fae by legacy and birth, Nina has some trouble staying unnoticed in a society where creatures like werewolf have already gone public. Scared off by human’s repulsion for the unknown, and their prejudice towards werewolves, Nina is terribly afraid of what might happen if they find out what she really is. Back at home, she has a fae-struck father to take care of, who is in a condition close to dementia, and is still hopelessly in love with her runaway mother and fae princess, A’lona.

When Nina meets the sexy alpha werewolf Severin, she believes she may finally have met her match. However, Severin is hiding dark secrets, one of them involving Nina. When an otherwise-harmless pixie starts attacking her father, and she figures out the creatures of Nightfall are trying to assassinate the both of them, Nina must do whatever it takes to protect both herself and her father. On top of all that, Nina feels herself changing, and she is slowly becoming like the creature she loathes more than anything. Her mother.

Glimmer is a rather interesting and entertaining read, but it left me feeling very dissapointed as well. The trouble is that this is a novella, and the author is trying to include either too much or too little – that I have yet to decide. We are introcuded to a wide cast of characters, but we hardly get to know any of them in-depth thanks to the short length of this novel. I loved Nina’s father and mother, the human and the fae princess, and how they did manage to love each other one day. I somewhat-liked the character of Nina. I found her struggle to keep her fae side a secret very entertaining and realistically described, but I thought her attraction to Severin, the alpha werewolf, exaggerated and unnatural. She reminded me a lot of the average love-struck teenage girl: swooning over a hot boy so much that they can barely see what’s going on around them. Last time I checked gazing in the distance for ten minutes after a guy kisses you, is not normal. Add to the fact that Nina really isn’t a teenage girl, but rather a grown-up woman of twenty-eight, I found her behavior when with Severin rather childish and immature. I didn’t like this part of her personality.

I liked the storyline, as far as it concerned faeries. I loved Nina’s mixed heritage, and her struggles with her growing wings, and to accept the fact that she’s half fae. The addition of iron-disease was an interesting bonus as well. The portal in the garden, the pixies, Nina’s father’s fae-struckness, etc. were all nice and original additions to the story. What I didn’t like, were the werewolves. For instance, I had no idea what exactly they were doing, or what their importance for the storyline was. There is nothing in any faerie lore that even suggest a connection or a war with werewolves, and I imagine faeries would rather fight humans, or other supernatural creatures in general, or even fight each other, then they would go through the trouble to declare a century-long war on werewolves. To be honest, werewolves aren’t exactly the most interesting supernatural beings out there. And even if you add the changes Vivi Anna included with regards to werewolves – they apparently don’t need full moon to change, they don’t age, and they can spot faeries – then they are still not-all-that-interesting. At least not when compared to the timeless and immortal beings that are faeries.

I hated Severin. Really. He just seemed to be stuck-up, full-of-himself bachelor number forty, with an unkeen interest in our heroine from the start. And why exactly? His motives aren’t all that pure, but even though so, he still manages to act like a love-struck puppy by the end of the novella. I just had the feeling that on the one side, everything was happening too fast to really let me grasp everything that was going on, from the werewolf-faerie war, and Nina’s change into a faerie, to Severin’s secrets and his relationship with Nina, which developed at lightning speed. On the other hand, I had a feeling that nothing was happening at all. So we meet Nina and her Dad. They get attacked by pixies gone rogue with a keen desire to kill the both of them. In comes Severin, the sexy werewolf and love-interest for our heroine. Then Nina gets ill, and grows a pair of wings. Then some more things happen, which I won’t include for spoiler’s sake, but by the end of the novella, we’re still nowhere. The journey is yet to begun, Nina has yet to make her descend into Nightfall, we don’t know why half of the things that happened did happen (for example, I’m still wondering what got that woman who died at the beginning of the story. Sure it wasn’t a werewolf…then what the heck was it?) and I had the feeling this was still just the beginning of the story, and the real story had yet to begun.

I think this novella would have been a lot better had the author decided, rather than make a series of short novellas, to write one full-length novel, that would cover the entire story. I don’t know what it is with authors preferring to write series of short stories nowadays rather than simply write one novel, and wrap things up nicely by the end of it, but it certainly isn’t something I prefer. I can imagine the appeal of a novella to some readers – it reads faster, you don’t have to indulge in unnecessary details – but the downside is that you cannot connect with the characters, the storyline is sometimes lacking and leaves you with a lot of loose ends, and the story just feels unfinished. As I already said in one of my previous reviews, it takes a special skill to a novella that actually works. I just had the feeling this wasn’t the case here; and I’m pretty sure I would have liked Nina’s story a lot more if it had been longer and I could relate to the characters more.

There were some original ideas introduced in Glimmer though. As I already stated, I loved the whole faerie-thing, from the wings, the portals, the runaway Mother, to the assassination attempts from Nightfall. The writing was decent as well, and the plot offered originality, a fast pace and some nice twists. If you want to relax for half an hour to an hour, or if you just want to doze away to a world where faeries walk in the mortal realm, and werewolves have gon public, then this novel is something for you. I did enjoy reading it, but it left me unconvinced. It has potential, but in the end, it doesn’t come through.

Author Interview: Amanda Von Hoffmann

The Novel

7740081Title: Behind Green Glass
Author: Amanda Von Hoffmann
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Faeries, Young Adult
Take a look at my review for Behind Green Glass.

“Perched in the maple outdoors she saw a figure, human in shape, animal-like in posture. A smooth expanse of bare muscled chest, light tangled hair, glowing irises. The glass slipped from her fingers…”
Isolde is a shy and artistic sixteen-year-old who moves into a house rumored to be haunted. When she discovers a shard of green glass, a new world opens for her. Through the glass she sees Lyric, who mistakenly believes that he is a ghost, and other ethereally beautiful creatures. As their mystery unfolds, Isolde learns that they are not ghosts, but The Forgotten Ones, fairies cast out of their realm, labeled imperfect for their physical and mental differences. Isolde’s friendship with Lyric and The Forgotten Ones teaches her that sometimes our “imperfections” can also be our greatest strengths.

The Interview

1) Hello Amanda! I really enjoyed reading your novel Behind Green Glass. What inspired you to start writing, and how long have you been writing?

Thank you. I fell in love with writing in the second grade. My teacher, Mrs. Hanley, gave me my first creative writing assignment. I wrote a detailed story about a mouse astronaut visiting a moon made of cheese. I remember standing in front of class hurriedly reading my story, my face burning with embarrassment. Mrs. Hanley ordered me to “speak up and slow down!” Then, she told me that I had written a wonderful story. Praise from Mrs. Hanley was rare, so it meant a lot. I wish I still had that mouse story!

From 6th-12th grade I was homeschooled. I spent many hours reading and writing, imagining life outside of my rural town. Books offer a wonderful escape from routine.

2) I was so glad that Isolde, the main character in Behind Green Glass, isn’t the generic stereotype feisty, stubborn and overly confident heroine. On the contrary, she is a shy, kind and artistic person. Did you choose this set of personality traits on purpose, and if so, why?

I believe there are many girls in the world like Isolde—girls that are shy, kind and find it easier to express their innermost feelings through art instead of social interaction. I am a girl like Isolde, except I express myself through writing instead of painting. I think that introverts sometimes live vicariously through their friends and worry that life is passing them by. I wanted to give a shy girl her own adventure, challenging her to find and appreciate her strengths.

3) Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed about your novel was the original and innovative way in which you portray your faeries. Rather than the mischievous, deal-making and deal-breaking type of faeries we see all too often in mythology and other young adult novels, you created kind, friendly and good-hearted faeries. Was this a conscious choice?

It was a conscious choice. Like Isolde, The Forgotten Ones don’t fit their stereotype. They are outcasts, making their own rules. The villainous faeries in Behind Green Glass are the ones that either abuse their power or blindly follow their society’s rules.

4) My favorite characters were Isolde and Lyric. Who was your favorite character to write?

I really enjoyed writing some of the secondary characters like Damarion and Maria. If I write a sequel, I think I’ll spend more time with them.

5) When you are working on a novel, what does your writing schedule look like?

I wish my writing was more scheduled than it is! I tend to write during my lunch breaks at work and on weekend mornings while my daughter is eating pancakes and watching cartoons. I dream about a writing sabbatical.

6) Are you currently working on another novel? Maybe a sequel for Behind Green Glass? (I would definitely read the sequel!)

I’m working on another novel, but it isn’t a sequel to Behind Green Glass. Maybe I’ll write a sequel or prequel to Behind Green Glass in the future. Right now, I’m working on a YA steampunk novel. I’m having fun writing it. Thank you for the lovely review, Majanka.

The Author

 

Amanda Von Hoffmann was born in San Bernardino, California. When she was four years old, her family moved to a tiny town in New York so far north that Canada was practically in their backyard. During her childhood, books allowed her to travel outside of the rural environment, and she spent hours reading, usually sitting in her family’s tree house or on their sunlit porch in the company of their cats. Strangely, now she find herself writing about the hometown she sought to escape. However, she also likes to write about matters outside of her experience, of imagined realms where fey and other magical beings exist.
When she was eighteen, Amanda brought her love for reading and writing to SUNY Potsdam where she majored in English. In 2004, she received her M.A. degree.
Currently Amanda works at a public library where she is happily surrounded by books and people that love books as much as she does. She is a mother, daydreamer, gamer geek and coffee addict. Behind Green Glass is her first published novel. Visit her website.

Book Review: Behind Green Glass by Amanda Von Hoffmann

7740081Title: Behind Green Glass
Author: Amanda Von Hoffmann
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Faeries
Review copy provided by the author. Visit the author’s website.
Rating: 4 stars

“Perched in the maple outdoors she saw a figure, human in shape, animal-like in posture. A smooth expanse of bare muscled chest, light tangled hair, glowing irises. The glass slipped from her fingers…”
Isolde is a shy and artistic sixteen-year-old who moves into a house rumored to be haunted. When she discovers a shard of green glass, a new world opens for her. Through the glass she sees Lyric, who mistakenly believes that he is a ghost, and other ethereally beautiful creatures. As their mystery unfolds, Isolde learns that they are not ghosts, but The Forgotten Ones, fairies cast out of their realm, labeled imperfect for their physical and mental differences. Isolde’s friendship with Lyric and The Forgotten Ones teaches her that sometimes our “imperfections” can also be our greatest strengths.

First of all, I owe you all – and especially the kind and friendly author of this book, Amanda Von Hoffmann – an apology for the tardiness of this review. I have to admit that, for a reason I couldn’t quite grasp, this was one of the most difficult reviews I had to write up to date. I started writing about a dozen times now, then got unhappy about what I wrote, went back and erased it all, and still wasn’t happy. Draft review after draft review was trashed and deleted, and now I give up. I promised the author to post this review probably a month ago, and she has been nothing but kind and patient, which makes me even more ashamed about posting so late. So now I’m done, fed up, angry with myself, and tired of being unable to write this review properly. This time, I’ll just write it down, everything the novel makes me think and feel, and if it makes no sense or my writing style is less than desirable, then I’m deeply sorry but so be it. Anyway, on to the review.

Behind Green Glass focuses on Isolde, a young adult who recently moved to the country with her mother. Isolde is a shy, artistic and kind person but she often struggles with who she is, and wishes she could be more outgoing, like her best friend. Soon after moving to the old countryhouse, Isolde starts feeling like she is being watched by someone or something, and strange occurances happen in her room. Convinced she is being haunted by the ghost of a girl who passed away in that very room – Meredith, Isolde is determined to help the ghost move on to the afterlife. It’s only when she discovers a shards of green glass in her drawer, and sees the ghost of a young boy through this glass, that Isolde realises it isn’t Meredith who haunts her. It’s Lyric. He was in love with Meredith and stayed in her room even after she died, unable to let go of the girl he loved. It doesn’t take long before Isolde figures out that Lyric, and his friends, aren’t really ghosts. They’re faeries. And not just faeries: they are the Forgotten Ones, imperfect faeries cast out of the faerie world.

I can’t begin to explain to you how much I liked Isolde. Right when I was so fed up with always having to read books about feisty, fiery and stubborn heroines who take feminism one step too far, in walks Isolde. Such a refreshing change from the usual: so innocent and kind, and yet so strong and determined. It’s been a while since a character has managed to surprise me in such a nice way like Isolde did. For one, she was an actual human being, with all sorts of contradictory emotions, a desire to be someone else than who she really is, and all the insecurities normal human beings feel. She reminded me a lot of myself when I was that age, and it was pleasant to see that not all fantasy heroines need the same generic personality to accomplish things, and kindness can get you a long way as well.

The other characters were very interesting as well. I simply loved how Amanda von Hoffmann described the imperfect faeries: Fafnir with his stutter, Nola with her childlike behaviour and Lyric himself. The faeries had personalities of them own, but none were the cunning, mischevious and somewhat-evil kind described in mythology, fairytales and recent faerie-related books like The Iron Fey series and Glimmerglass. Von Hoffman’s faeries are kind, friendly creatures, who might be holding a few secrets of their own, but who won’t plan on feeding humans enchanted food or trick them into deals they don’t want. It was so refreshing not having to think about ‘what will the wicked faerie do next, and how will they trick the humans into making a deal with them’, and seeing another aspect of the faerieworld for once. I also like the character of Matt, although I was Team Lyric all the way. Lyric just had that mystery charm working for him that made me like him even more than I liked Matt. That, and he managed to show Isolde some of the strengths she possessed without her even realising it. That gives him additional credit as well.

Although the storyline evolves around a little of different things:the possible haunting, Isolde’s issues with her mother homeschooling her, her relationship with Matt, the journey to the faerie realm, etc., I had the feeling Behind Green Glass is mostly a sort of coming-of-age story. We see how at first, Isolde is filled with concerns and insecurities. She isn’t happy with the person she is, and wants to be stronger and more outgoing. As the story develops, and Isolde is forced to make some harsh decisions and to rely on her own strength and courage to not only save herself, but also the friends she cares deeply about, I could see her personality developing as well. It was quite clear and easy to see, and I love it when a character manages to grow throughout the story, and become a better person in the end. This growth process is wonderfully written and shown, and in some ways it made me feel very proud of Isolde. By the end, I was going all ‘You go, girl!’.

I really enjoyed reading Behind Green Glass. I thought the writing was spot-on, the characters had interesting personalities, and the entire take on the faerieworld was refreshing, new and innovative. The storyline itself was fast-paced and original. If you want a light and easy read, but a well-written one with a more original take on faeries, then Behind Green Glass is definately an excellent option.