By law, any child born in Idara is free, even if that child is born in a slave brothel. But as Cinder grows into a beauty that surpasses even that of her mother and grandmother, she realizes that freedom is only a word. Partial synopsis […]
Tag: Book Review
Both Talia and Will would rather get space-tossed than trust one another, but with the queen’s forces chasing them across the galaxy and the fate of both worlds hanging in the balance, they’ll forge the unlikeliest of alliances to survive. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. […]
On the eve of battle, Bower will have to fulfill a mystical prophecy and become the leader he was born to be, or risk his future kingdom falling apart. Surrounded on all sides by deadly foes, he must face not only the evil king, but his deep doubts about himself.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Series: Upon Dragon's Breath #2
Author: Ava Richardson
Publication Date: December 30, 2016
Publisher: Relay Publishing Ltd.
Page Count: 214
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Cover Artist: Joemel Requeza
My Rating: ★★★
This synopsis may contain spoilers!
Bower, being the rightful heir to the throne, is the bridge between the world of dragons and men. After a slim escape from King Enric, Bower has taken up residence with Saffron among her clutch of dragons. In the time he is there, it is the dragons’ duty to teach him about magic, and what it means to be a king to both humans and dragons. Not understanding much of magic herself, Saffron decides to take Bower to visit the old Hermit. Upon arriving, they find the Hermit mortally wounded, and discover that the king knows the two of them are on the island as they were his attackers. The Hermit instructs them to find the Three-Rivers clans before he succumbs to his injuries.
”Find what I’ve hidden for you, my king. Take back what is yours by right. Get to the clans. Stop Enric. Trust each other.”
Bower and Saffron meet with the dragons to discuss what they are to do about King Enric. Bower, being the rightful heir, must show his worth to the dragons before they are willing to back him up. In order to gain their trust, the dragons send him on a quest to make friends between the dragons and island people–which is not a simple task. There has been a long-spanning dispute between the two races.. The local shaman speaks of messengers from the king arriving on the island, looking for the two of them, then reveals that she plotted to lure them out so they could be captured. Before Bower is able to enlist the people in a peace treaty with the dragons, the islanders are forced to take refuge in Den Mountain with the dragons from a raid the king planned with the shaman.
Bower helps to lead the dragon swarm in a fight against the king’s boats. Defeating them, Bower instructs the villagers and dragons that they need to find a different place to live, now that the king knows where the dragons were residing. He and Saffron then leave the island astride Jaydra, to seek out the Three-Rivers clan of dragon riders. On the way, Saffron uses the opportunity to help Bower develop his riding skills, along with her abilities with magic.
The group finds the Three-Rivers clan, but they aren’t who they imagined. They do not live in harmony with their dragons, and treat them as wild animals. When their leader Ryland learned that Bower is the rightful king of Torvald, he challenged Bower to mount one of their black dragons to prove his dominance. Bower realizes that the dragons are nocturnal, and frees one, trying to make the wild creature realize he’s not trying to hurt it. The dragon, out of anger, knocks Ryland from his dragon and the two dragons escape. Out of fear, Saffron uses her magic to keep Bower safe from the feral dragon, and ends up injuring some and scaring the dragons off.
The town is raided by the Iron Guard. Saffron discovers that Ryland doesn’t have any other dragons as they are all feral and unrideable. Saffron, Bower, and Jaydra do what they can to hold the Iron Guard back, but when the king’s magic stops them and tries to call Saffron back to him. In desperate need of aid, Bower sends out a call to all dragons. The brood from Den Mountain, along with dragons from several other surrounding locations hear him, and come to help. As Saffron fights the king with magic, Bower focuses on guiding the dragon warriors.
Exhausted after the magic battle with the Iron Guard, Bower and Saffron are held and watched by the Three Rivers Clan. The red dragons that came to Bower’s aid confronted them, but were unable to share their thoughts with humans. Ysix and the rest of Jaydra’s brood arrive and show both the red dragons and the Three Rivers clan that dragons and humans have an ancient bond, and acknowledge Bower as the rightful king. Ysix is able to help repair relations between the humans and some of the black dragons. On the same side, the dragons choose their riders, and they learn how to work together through training.
One evening, Saffron is acting strange and turns in early. Bower, worried about her strange reactions, goes to check on her. He finds her in a nightmarish state, and is dragged into the depths of her dream, where Enric infiltrates her mind and tries to persuade Saffron again to join him. She is able to break from his grasps with the help of Jaydra, but now the king knows their location.
A massive battle ensues between the dragons and the king’s Iron Guard. King Enric tries to force Saffron to come to him. In her anger, she recklessly uses her magic and creates a massive storm. With the distraction of the storm, and the valiant sacrifice by Ryland, they are able to escape the king’s clutches.
1) Dragons of Wild: ★★★½
Initially, I was slow to get back into this series, and remembering all of the details. I let far too much time pass from when I read Dragons of Wild, which is a shame. What I found when I jumped back into this world, however, was how much I appreciated this series. It’s clean, it has straight-forward intentions, the characters are wholesome, and it is a refreshing deviation from the typical YA fantasy read.
Dragons of Kings is set in the surrounding lands of Torvald. While there is detail given of the land, it is not in depth, and somewhat difficult to follow where the characters actually are. More of the world building comes into play when the reader is introduced to the Three-Rivers Clan, and see some of their perspectives, especially towards dragons.
Pacing & Readability
The pacing is moderate but remains consistent throughout the entire book. While this book is easy to read, I had a difficult time staying engaged with it as not a lot happened. The distance between “point A” to “point B” could be summed up in just a few sentences.
Point-of-View & Characters
The point-of-view remains the same as Dragons of Wild, and shifts between Saffron and Bower. The reader is privy to moderately deeper ruminations of the characters this time around. I felt that I got a better picture of Bower’s character overall.
“I had been raised with books, not with battles.”
For the first time, Bower is challenged by the dragons to see if he is worthy enough to be the dragon king. He knows he is the true heir to the throne, but struggles immensely with the responsibility that comes with it.
Saffron’s character was rather flat in this sequel. While she has a few challenges thrown her way, her character didn’t react as much as I would have expected in the situations. If it wasn’t for Jaydra helping her along, I fear Saffron would be nearly unremarkable.
We are introduced to a few new characters (both dragons and humans) in this installment, but these too are barely explored. Ryland, the leader of the Three-Rivers clan is briefly introduced, then made into a petty criminal with his acts towards the black dragons. (view spoiler)[While I feel his character tried to be redeemed by his sacrifice in the end, he simply didn’t do much to move the plot forward. (hide spoiler)]
King Enric, the antagonist of the series, is probably the most consistent character of all. I felt that as the villain, he delivered what was expected of him.
⇒ Good vs. Evil:
The battle between good and evil is the central theme through this series. Saffron and Bower, the representatives of good, fight against King Enric, an evil sorcerer king who has tried (and mostly succeeded) in wiping everyone’s minds clean of dragons and history in general. As I stated in my review for Dragons of Wild, this series parallels Fahrenheit 451, in the idea that knowledge (books) are dangerous. This is exactly the world that King Enric is trying to enforce and control, which truly is a terrifying goal for an antagonist.
This theme is also applicable for Saffron as she battles with her Maddox magic.
“If it is magic for human and dragons to share a mind, is it magic that also breaks our ties? Or is it the lack of magic? And if there is a place where Jaydra and Saffron are one thing in our hearts and minds, is there also a place where Saffron and Enric are one?”
Unsure of its functioning, Saffron doesn’t know if the magic is good, or evil like that of King Enric’s. It causes a rift between her and Jaydra, and Jaydra must protect herself from being influenced by the king when Saffron uses her magic. There wasn’t a conclusion to this issue, and assume it will be made clear in the sequel, Dragons of Dark.
⇒ Coming of age:
This story was largely centered around Bower, and him coming to terms with the fact that he is the rightful heir to the throne. Not only that, he has the ability to unite the dragons and humans once again. Throughout the entire story, he is seeking his worth, understanding, ability, and influence. Being one that loved to hit the books, he hadn’t had any experience with leading others. It was a trait that he had to learn and develop for his own.
⇒ Unity/Coming Together:
Another underlying theme was bringing unity between the dragons and humans in order to fight King Enric. After a long time of having little-to-no ties, Bower must word in tandem with the dragons to gain their respect and trust, as well as be a good advocate for them to the humans.
Things that I liked:
⇒ The dragons and humans learning to work together.
⇒ The diversity of the dragons. This is more of a personal point, but I loved learning about all of the variations of dragons, and how different they are!
⇒ How clean of a read this is!
Things that I didn’t like:
⇒ The plot pacing was a bit slow. I found myself having to reread areas because I became distracted and didn’t pay enough attention.
⇒ I still had some difficulty really engaging myself in the characters’ stories. I felt that they and several other aspects of the plot needed more depth.
While I really wanted to like this series more, I feel like there’s an outstretched hand, halting my progression in immerse myself further. I’d like to get further into this world, but need more depth in the characters in order to do so. I’m hoping Dragons of Dark will fulfill my hopes for this series because I think it really has potential to be great!
Sexual content: None.
Violence: While there are several fight scenes, there is no gore.
Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg’s father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government. Synopsis provided by Goodreads. Book: A Wrinkle in Time Series: Time Quintet Author: Madeleine L’Engle Publication Date: May […]
Ole-Luk-Oie, The Dream God written by Hans Christian Andersen One of the more well-known fairy tale authors, Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish author in the 1800’s. He wrote Ole-Luk-Oie (or Ole Lukøje in other versions) and published it originally on December 20, 1841 by C. A. Reitzel. […]
Joey is a warhorse, but he wasn't always. Once, he was a farm horse and a gentle boy named Albert was his master. Then World War I came storming through and everything changed.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Book: War Horse
Author: Michael Morpurgo
Publication Date: first published in Great Britain in 1982
Publisher: Egmont UK
Page Count: 180
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Animals
Cover Artist: Rae Smith
My Rating: ★★★★★
Joey, a strapping young foal is sold at auction to an unlikable farmer. But the farmer’s son Albert, dotes on Joey and raises him to be a fine horse. When WWI shakes Europe, the English army travels from town to town, gathering up soldiers and purchasing horses to use for the war. In a bad way, Albert’s father sells Joey to the army behind his back, in order to pay off his debt. Beside himself, Albert swears that when he is old enough, he too, will enter the war and find Joey and bring him back home.
Joey is sent to a short training camp and learns how to become a war instrument instead of a simple plow horse. While he adjusts quickly to his new position, he is abruptly thrust into the front lines of the war. Guided by the kind hand of Captain Nicholls, Joey is at ease. He also becomes close companions with Topthorn, another pristine black horse. But the war isn’t so kind, and takes Captain Nicholls’ life in that first battle. Joey is passed between riders, until he is finally captured with Topthorn and enlisted into the German army for a few years
The two find solace as they are kept by a young French girl Emilie and her grandfather, and used to pull the German ambulance carts. The war lulls, and the Germans leave the two horses in the young girls’ care. However, soon after, a different regiment comes through and takes the horses again to pull ammunition carts. It’s heavy work, and many horses perish, and Topthorn grows gravely ill.
Spring returns, but Topthorn never fully regains his strength, and ends up dying due to complications. Although devastated with losing Topthorn, Joey escapes the Germans’ clutches in a raid by the English. He ends up getting stuck in No-Man’s-Land, and severely injures himself. Both armies see the poor horse’s condition, and end up flipping a coin to see who would take him back to their company to be cared for. The English win, and take him back to their veterinary base.
Ironically enough, Joey is confronted by Albert, who is now enlisted in the army to give veterinary service to sick and wounded horses. The two are elated at finding one another again, however, Joey grows gravely ill from his injuries he obtained in No-Man’s-Land. With Albert and the other order-lee’s help, they are able to nurse him back to health.
Once Joey regains his strength, he is enlisted to work again and pull the ambulance cart for injured horses and bring them back from the front line. During this line of work, one of Albert’s closest friends is killed, and Albert becomes severely depressed. It isn’t until talk of the war ending that he begins to liven up, saying how he and Joey will soon go home.
The army has different plans, and auctions off all the horses to the highest bidders, many being French butchers. Desperate to keep his horse, Albert asks for help. All of the soldiers pitch in to raise money to buy Joey, even though it is against orders. They end up being outbid by the old French gentleman who had kept Joey and Topthorn back when they were with the Germans. Hearing Albert’s story, about how he owned Joey since he was a colt, he decided to give Joey to him for an English penny, as his Emilie had passed away. He didn’t want to see Joey, the beloved horse by his granddaughter, go to a slaughterhouse.
Albert and Joey are able to return home, and live out the rest of their days in each other’s company.
”That’s what war is all about, my friend. It’s about which of us is the madder.”
I remember when I saw this movie when it first came out in theatre. At the time, I didn’t realize it was an adaptation from a book. Naturally, when I learned of its origins, I had to read the book as well! War Horse is told in a similar fashion to Black Beauty, as it is told from the horse’s (Joey’s) perspective. While this point-of-view may be slightly limiting as it leaves out a lot of human emotion, I appreciated how it simplified the narration and actually made everything come across more bluntly. Just like humans, Joey and the other horses felt and experienced raw emotions throughout the war. Fear, anxiety, comradery, sacrifice–however, they came across without jadedness. Unlike humans, animals feel emotions without complications. This narration bled into the human characters throughout that were pivotal in Joey’s story, as their complicated situations were unraveled to reveal the jewels underneath.
The main point about this book that I love is the theme of human value. Despite the fact of there being a war going on, there weren’t any ruthless characters that only wanted to kill, kill, kill. Everyone had a sense of general right and wrong and understood the fact that war is ugly, traumatic, complicated, and tiresome.
”The horse is yours. Take good care of him, my friend,” and he picked up the rope again and handed it to the Welshman. As he did so he held out his other hand in a gesture of friendship and reconciliation, a smile lighting his worn face. “In an hour, maybe, or two,” he said, “We will be trying to our best again each other to kill. God only knows why we do it, and I think he has maybe forgotten why. Goodby Welshman. We have shown them, haven’t we? We have shown them that any problem can be solved between people if only they can trust each other. That is all it needs, no?”
This element of humanity is undeniably prevalent in a pure form to show how humans can only take so much. For a majority of this war, the people didn’t even know what they were fighting for. They didn’t hate each other–they knew they were all equals, and they respected each other in that.
Comparably, the theme of friendship is very strong. Deep friendships between men, horses, and men to horses, exist in several examples. Albert and Joey–Joey and Captain Nicholls–Joey and Topthorn–Joey, Topthorn, and Emilie, and several other connections overflow this book with friendship. I believe this is the aspect which makes this book so emotional because the deepness of affection between characters in untainted ways is tangible. It’s so tangible, in fact, that several characters willingly faced their fears in order to sacrifice for one another.
This book is devastatingly heart-wrenching at times but makes you feel so good at others. It’s a short read, but is packed full of virtue, respectful characters, and honorable missions–both by horse and man. It was a refreshing read and completely cleansed my palate. This book is aimed at children to young adults, but can easily be read and appreciated by someone of any age. I would highly recommend this read to anyone.
Vulgarity: The “H” word is only used once.
Sexual content: None at all.
Violence: Seeing how this book is about WWI, the evidence of violence is there. However, the author does a wonderful job in its portrayal and steers clear of gore, unnecessarily graphic scenes, and the like.
I’ve been blogging for over a year already… It was Winter 2016 when I decided that I really needed to do something in order to keep me sane (for lack-of-better-terms). Being a wife to an amazing husband, mother to an adorable toddler (we are also expecting a baby boy), a […]
Release day February 27, 2018! Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can’t make a scene at your sister’s wedding and break a relative’s nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her […]
The year is 2030, and climate change is making life on Earth more challenging. Fourteen-year-old Jasmine Guzman is struggling to come to terms with the abduction of her twin sister, Jade, and her mother’s illness. Things go from bad to worse when a series of bizarre occurrences make Jasmine wonder if she’s losing her mind.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Book: Finding Jade
Series: Daughters of Light #1
Author: Mary Jennifer Payne
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Dundurn Group
Page Count: 216
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Paranormal
My Review: ★★★
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Dun Durn, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Jasmine has always been different from most kids her age–she was born a twin. She grew up close to her sister until a few years ago when Jade was abducted. Jasmine and her mother have never recovered from the incident, understandably. With no body, or trace of evidence, there was no closure for them.
Life in 2030 was hot, no matter where one lived. After a drastic climate change, much of the world has been changed past the point of inhabitation. The conditions make it difficult for anyone to thrive. Jasmine’s mother, riddled with a debilitating disease, only grew worse when the abduction happened. Jasmine has worked hard ever since to help her mom out in any way possible, alongside her mother’s close friend Lola.
When Jasmine is transferred to a new school, she realizes that something strange is going on. Most of her classmates are made up of twins. Introduced to the world of demons, Jasmine learns that she is a part of a special network of individuals who have access to unusual abilities. There, she meets a boy named Raphael who has a hankering for helping her in the times that matter the most.
Jasmine learns through a series of extraordinary events that her sister is alive, but is stuck in a place called The-Place-in-Between. More sinister than it sounds, Jasmine must quite literally face her demons in order to rescue her long-lost sister from the shadowy realm.
I like it when I go into a book not really knowing what to expect. I like even more when a book takes the reins and leads me down a path that I don’t foresee. Finding Jade had a lot of surprising attributes to it that make it stand out. However, a few of those attributes could ultimately be its downfall, as some are under-developed and without must investigation. Needless to say, I thought this was an interesting take on the paranormal topic of angels and demons. While I didn’t necessarily like parts of the backstory, I appreciated the author’s ingenuity and ability to converge several (seemingly random) paths into one.
Things that I liked:
#1 There is a lot of diversity among the characters. Both Jasmine and Jade are of Chilean descent, and the book is mostly set in Toronto which has a lot of diversity in and of itself.
#2 The concept, while a bit unpolished, was interesting. I did not expect the book to travel in the direction that it headed toward, which made for a surprising read.
#3 I loved the (random) variation of settings, and how they were tied into the plot. The-Place-in-Between, aka a Pergatorish “Hell-like” state where people would become stuck in was original and rather creepy. I felt like I was stepping onto a London street at night knowing that Jack the Ripper was on the loose when reading these scenes.
Things that I didn’t like:
#1 I felt that there were several aspects of this book that were left without much explanation. Granted, this is the first book in a series, but I found that it would have been more beneficial to have more information on specific topics such as Lola’s Ibeja doll, the Seers themselves and what all they are actually capable of, and more on Raphael (but I’m certain more is coming on him in Solomon’s Ring.
The Seers were never painted into a full picture for me.
Seers are genetically connected to this chick called Lilith, who was apparently Adam’s wife before Eve. She’s gotten a bad rap over the centuries because she held supernatural powers and led armies into battle, refusing to be subservient to men. Good for her, right? But because she used her girl power without shame and men could not control her, they made up nasty rumours about her. Rumours that she was a demon, a vampire, and an evil whore. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: not a lot has changed between guys and girls over the years. Kind of depressing. Instead of spreading this stuff on social media, guys back in the day wrote trashy rumours on scrolls and cave walls. Nice.
While we do get some background information, (with some jabs at the male gender – another thing I didn’t care for) I couldn’t seem to grasp the entirety of their capabilities and entire purpose.
#2 SPOILER ALERT!!!
I found Jasmine’s reaction to finding her sister so…odd. A lot of time was spent in the first portion of this book with her pondering her sister’s disappearance. Yet, when she discovered she was alive and successfully rescued her from The-Place-in-Between, she almost seemed indifferent. No, I don’t expect her to be jumping up and down from that moment on. I just found her to have a lack of engagement with her sister’s return. It was weird.
[I found Jasmine’s reaction to finding her sister so…odd. A lot of time was spent in the first portion of this book with her pondering her sister’s disappearance. Yet, when she discovered she was alive and successfully rescued her from The-Place-in-Between, she almost seemed indifferent. No, I don’t expect her to be jumping up and down from that moment on. I just found her to have a lack of engagement with her sister’s return. It was weird. (hide spoiler)]
END OF SPOILER.
#3 While the setting clearly takes place in Toronto, I had a hard time envisioning where the characters were throughout. The proximity of the schools, what they were like, the subway scenes, and The-Place-in-Between settings were only briefly touched upon. Especially seeing how this takes place in a dystopian future, I was looking for more detail on the different locations, as well as the drastic variances between them and the eras in which the characters travel.
Overall, I thought this was a unique read. While I had some issues with underdevelopment of some aspects of the plot, I thought the characters were decently-developed and played into the plot well. I’m curious to see where they will end up in Solomon’s Ring.
Sexual content: Kissing only.
Violence: Moderate – there were some scenes particularly in The-Place-in-Between that were grotesque, including decapitation of some characters.
It is the autumn of 1846 in Ireland. Lorraine and her brother are waiting for the time to pick the potato crop on their family farm leased from an English landowner. But this year is different—the spuds are mushy and ruined. What will Lorraine and […]
The Lily of Life: a Fairy Tale
written by The Crown Princess of Romania, aka Carmen Sylva
The Lily of Life: A Fairy Tale is a children’s story that was originally published in 1913. Written by the Crown Princess of Romania, Pauline Elisabeth Ottilie Luise zu Wied, who wrote under the pen name of Carmen Sylva. She was the Queen consort of Romania and was wife to King Carol I of Romania–one of the last kings to reign in the country. Carmen wrote a variety of works, in German, English, Romanian, and French.
From the Preface of the book:
A Young mother, who is a true artist, relating
a fairy tale, is one of the greatest joys in this
The first impression of this most delightful
story is the feeling for colour and decoration,
then the love of flowers and nature in general,
and then enough experience to show Lifes
tragic side as in a looking-glass that is very pure
and bright. The story becomes more and more
touching, the Sacuntala or Psyche it represents
more and more interesting and lovable.
The great incentive to every sacrifice. Love,
is represented in all its strength and purity.
The whole book will be a true enjoyment to
young and old, the one looking for the sequel
of the story, the other taken up by the philo-
sophy and inner meaning. There has been
more than one Damaianti in this world, more
than one woman’s feet have bled on their road
to eternity, more than one woman has had to
sacrifice everything, her heart and soul, and
youth and beauty, the very hair of her head.
More than one woman has remained without
a reward, and has gone down to history as a
martyr and a saint. Here is one more.
Her sufferings are so real, her sacrifice is
so complete — woman’s lot in all its tragic
We read it with deep emotion, and our
feelings are the stronger, as great beauty per-
vades it all, and every situation is so entirely
picturesque. All readers of fairy lore will find
it true and beautiful. Fairyland is our last
refuge, when the world is a battle-field and
religion gone. Then fairyland steps in, and
everything becomes alive again — love and piety
and beauty and ideals. God has blessed fairy-
land and given it to the little ones, to keep
their dear hearts pure and bright. Every
mother ought to be inspired by the lovely
eyes that look into hers with such utter con-
fidence and with such great expectations.
This tale has been paraphrased from the original version.
There lived a happy king and queen, in a beautiful golden castle by the sea. The couple had two beautiful daughters, one with golden hair and sad, brown eyes. The other had jet black hair, with bright blue eyes. The golden-haired girl was named Corona, and the black-haired girl named Mora. Corona was named as such because when she was born, it looked like she had a golden crown on her head. The nurse who cared for the girls noticed Corona’s sad eyes and wondered if the girl carried the sadness of the world within her.
Despite her sad eyes, both girls grew up very happy, and loved their parents deeply. As the girls aged, their parents couldn’t help but think of marriage for them. The girls wouldn’t hear a word of it, as they hated the idea of being separated from one another. Around the castle were massive forests, through which the sisters would enjoy long rides together. Mora had an inky-black horse, and Corona a shining golden one.
One day, the girls rode deep into the forest, where they came across a pool of dark water. Hot from their fast ride, they dismounted their horses and leaned against them. They stared into the deep pool of water. When Mora looked up, she saw that a knight clad in gold armor stood before them. The knight rounded the pool, bared his head, and knelt before the young women. The girls discovered that the knight’s name was Ilario. He was a prince from afar, and was lost in the forest.
One of the pages rode ahead of their group to alert the king to prepare a feast for the foreigner. The trio rode back to the castle, flanked by Yno, Corona’s page. They were all very happy, except for Yno, when he suddenly felt very lonely as a large eagle flying overhead looked down at them. The eagle admired the beauty of the scene below, but felt sad with all of the world’s sorrow.
Ilario was warmly welcomed into the court by the king and queen, with feasting and a great tournament. The two sisters who had lived alone with their parents, found a new joy in their lives (not realizing their guest was the source of their happiness.) Ilario won the tournament with ease. The two sisters’ hearts leapt in their chest when he gazed upon them in admiration. It was the first time the girls harbored a secret from one another as they each fell in love with him.
Three weeks later, Yno found his mistress crying. She confided in him that Ilario and Mora didn’t even realize when she wasn’t with them any longer. The queen began to notice the divide between the sisters, and her heart grew heavy. It wasn’t long after that Ilario asked the king and queen for Mora’s hand in marriage, and the king gladly acquiesced. However, the queen grew more upset with the fact that Corona would be left behind.
At a celebration for the announcement, Corona was the first to give her sister an extravagant gift; a small blue casket covered in diamonds that held within it a tiny book. The book was carved out of an opal, edged with diamonds, and on its pages held says that brought good luck to those who read them. The sisters embraced, but for what seemed to be the last time, as they knew their friendship would never be the same again.
When the wedding drew closer, Ilario fell deathly ill. Mora sat with her beloved day and night. When she became too exhausted, she asked Corona to sit with him for her. When she left, Ilario looked at Corona with feverish eyes, and began proclaiming words of adoration for her. Not realizing she wasn’t Mora because of the fever, Corona sat with him while he uttered words of love for another, and her heart broke further.
A gypsy woman arrived at the castle one day who proclaimed to know of a wise woman in the woods far away who would know a cure for the prince. Only a young girl, with a soul as white as snow could make it through the dangerous bog that was between the forest and the witch’s home. When Corona heard this, she immediately volunteered to go. Reluctantly agreeing, her parents and Mora watched as she rode off with Yno. As they rode, Yno couldn’t help but feel as though Corona too, had forgotten his presence.
They found the edge of the bog. Seeing the treacherous landscape, Yno begged his mistress not to go. Corona replied that she must go alone, and implored him to wait for her there until she returned. In the evening light, Yno saw that upon her head shone a halo-like white light. It was then that he remembered the gypsy’s words that only a young girl with a soul white as snow could cross the bog. Despite her own fear, Corona pressed onward. On her way, she was accosted by horrible images of dying and suffering people. Filled with despair, she finally came across an old boat on the shore of the sea when she passed out.
When she awoke, she found herself in a room with an old woman who possessed the saddest eyes in the world. The woman gave Corona something to drink, and touched her fingers to her head, drawing out all of her weariness. The woman confessed that her heart died within her long ago, and she no longer has tears to shed, because she had been greedy in her younger years. That greed lead her lover to his death, is search of the largest, most beautiful pearl he could find. In her grief, the woman’s hair turned white, and everyone called her a witch because her selfishness killed the man.
Corona told the witch her quest. She grasped an old book, and told Corona that it came from afar, and was full of all the wisdom in the world. The book told of a forest filled with cruel beasts, and a white marble temple made of six courts. In the innermost court lies a pool of dark water, where grows the Lily of Life. The lily is so white and intense that the human eye cannot behold it without being stricken with blindness. But he who plucks the flower can heal any illness.
The woman asks if it is for her lover, and Corona says that it’s for the love of her sister that she would go to the far away land. Because the love within her was completely unselfish, the woman instructed her on how to get to the temple. She told her that she must not utter a sound to anyone, and that she must go alone. She gave her a magnet, a strangely shaded lamp that would light itself when she needed help, and a round piece of yellow glass.
By boat, Corona was allowed to return to the castle and leave a note for her sister in the middle of the night, as she was allowed to speak to no one, to let her know that there was hope in Ilario’s healing. She kissed the ill Ilario, then fled back to the boat. As she departed, she noticed Yno following her. Fearing he may drown, she drew him into the boat with her. He questioned her, but she could give him no answer as to where she was going.
In the morning, they reached the shore. She wrote in the sand that she must go alone, and he must wait for her. With a breaking heart, he watched her go. With the magnet to guide her way, Corona traveled long and far. Her feet were bleeding from crossing the great burning plain, and she was plagued with fatigue. A little brown bird alighted on her shoulder, and sang a song so beautiful that she felt completely rejuvenated to reach the mountains.
She walked more, and the air grew thinner and colder. She grew so cold by the time she reached an immense frozen lake, surrounded by treacherous black rock walls. The shadow of a terrible figure fell upon her. Unable to move forward over the frozen lake, she was forced to face it. An old man, covered in icicles looking as frozen as the lake, asked who had entered his domain. With her muteness, she couldn’t answer. Which turned out to be a blessing, for the man couldn’t tolerate the sound of a human voice and would therefore not turn her into stone. Before he let her go, he demanded payment, which she appeased by giving him her long golden hair.
Free from the man’s terrible grasps, she started to cross the lake. Suddenly, a flock of swans appeared and ferried her across the ice to a treacherous stairway cut into the side of the black rock wall. She fearfully climbed until she reached the top, pulled along by the magnet. Exhausted, she collapsed, yet the little brown bird appeared again to rejuvenate her.
She traveled until she reached a small cabin, where an old man and his son lived. Seeing her state, they helped her and allowed her to rest in their home. The man kept asking her questions, but she was unable to answer any of them. She slept until the magnet roused her in the middle of the night. She wrote a message, thanking them for their kindness, leaving behind her jeweled belt, and left.
The magnet led her deep into a thick, beautiful forest. Flowers and strange animals inhabited its depths, and Corona was overwhelmed with its beauty. Suddenly, a white stag with massive golden horns appeared before her. His eyes were blue just like Mora’s. He bent a knee and allowed her to sit astride his back. He took her as deep into the forest as he could, until his horns became too big to pass through the undergrowth. She slid from his back, and thanked him, not wanting to go on alone.
As she continued, large panthers with gleaming green eyes, and other ferocious creatures blocked her path. It was then that she remembered the little lantern the witch had given her. She pulled it out, and its bright light made the creatures backed away, allowing her to pass in safety. The animals of prey fell back when she reached a broad road, strewn with glowing ashes. Having no other way to traverse the landscape, she pushed forward, willing her mind to rule her body. Suddenly, she felt light, and the ground dropped away from her. She realized she was in the grip of a great bird. They landed on a soft green patch of moss covered in flowers. The great bird was an eagle and he took pity on her. His wings caressed the girl’s scorched feet and took all the pain away as if with magic. He leapt up and left her.
The magnet pulled her towards a mass of flowers, which covered a massive white marble wall. Elated, she searched for a door to the temple. She found it, but didn’t know how to open it. Next to the door grew a plant with red flowers that looked drops of blood. They emitted the sweetest of scents (a combination of all the beautiful scents she had smelled throughout her entire life). She went back to the door, held up the flower, and the door opened before her into the temple.
She passed through five inner courts by holding the flower to the door, each room having its own beautiful architecture and flowers more beautiful than the last. Each was guarded by a pair of ferocious beasts, but her little lantern allowed her to pass unharmed. She reached the final door, flanked by two angels, which opened the door for her. A blinding light emanated from the center of the room. A pool of dark water sat at the center, with a glowing object too bright to look at. With the yellow glass the witch had gifted her, she confirmed it was the lily.
She knelt down at the water’s edge and wept. She wept tears of pain and grief, relieving her overburdened heart. When her tears hit the floor, they turned into pearls, and rolled into the dark water. When she wept all of her tears, she unclasped her blue cloak and put it on the floor. She descended into the pool, and retrieved the lily. The moment the stem snapped, the air around them filled with music, and light shown over everything. It was as if the heavens had opened into the room. When she looked back, a new lily stood in the place of the old one, waiting for the next weary wanderer to seek out its healing powers.
She lifted the lily to her face and instantly felt infinite gladness. Even more, her golden hair grew thickly past her waist, and her soiled dress changed into a garment of the most spotless white. Lifted by swans, she was flown back to the place where she had left Yno. Her tongue now loosened, she asked the swans to stop and allow her to thank the man and his son for their kindness to her. Reaching the shore, Yno was awed by her presence, Something in her face seemed otherworldly, and the white dress seemed to pure to touch. In her hands sat the lily of life. When she saw that he had waited for her, she praised him, and told him how God had mercifully led her on her journey. The two took the boat back to the castle.
Arriving, Corona discovered that she was just in time. Ilario barely held onto life, but was still alive. Her mother too, had realized the change that Yno had seen. Corona’s beauty seemed unbearably pure. When Corona saw Ilario lying on his sick bed, she instantly was struck by his beauty. She felt a great love rise within her, but was reminded by Mora that she was his betrothed. With the lily, she touched his brow. Instantly, his health improved, and life returned to him. Ilario jumped up and kissed Mora.
Soon, the castle was filled with joy at the news of Ilario’s miraculous recovery. The marriage was the next day. The king was proud of his two beautiful daughters, but the queen saw deeper, and understood the grief to come for Corona, who acted like nothing was amiss. After the proceedings, she went out to the stable and wept into the neck of her beloved horse, mourning
After the ball, the bride and groom prepared to leave on a boat, back to the land of Ilario. Mora begged her sister to come visit, but Corona felt that she was bidding farewell. Ilario came to her, and he suddenly realized everything she had sacrificed. He kissed her, and then departed with Mora. Corona remained on the beach long into the night. Yno found Corona on the beach. Her skin was deathly white, her parted lips smiling, and her hands clasped over her broken heart.
In the morning, the king and queen sent out a search party for their missing daughter. On the beach two figures were found–Yno with with his head on his maiden’s feet, and a brown bird singing upon the beautiful girl. On a distant shore, the witch saw white wings rising towards Heaven, and heard the name “Corona” on the wind.
This is the most beautiful fairy tale I’ve read. The tale tells the story of two beautiful sisters, who are very dear to one another. Their happiness bleeds into the lives of everyone around them. Daughters of the king and queen, the young women had no desire to be married off, as they knew it would cause a divide in their relationship. But when the two come across a prince from a far-away land in the woods, they both eventually fall for him.
A fissure in their relationship begins to form when both girls realize their love for Ilario. But when Ilario returns Mora’s attention and not Corona’s, his intentions are clear. Soon he asks for Mora’s hand in marriage. Before they are wed, he falls deathly ill. Out of her love for her sister and Ilario both, Corona offers to embark on a journey to find a witch who may have the cure for the ailing prince. Corona’s journey is treacherous and changes her character immensely.
This is a beautiful story of selfless, but heart-wrenching sacrifice, and how powerful pure love is. However, this tale also proves that love does not guarantee happiness, as Corona’s character exhibits. Furthermore, true love is sacrifice. There is so much to take away from this story. One cannot help but feel the anguish Corona endures, as she does not allow her love for Ilario to surpass or taint the purity of the love she has for her sister and her sister’s happiness. The tale concludes in a way that is neither satisfactory nor disappointing. It definitely makes one think, and appreciate the power of pure love because it is rare.
My Rating: ★★★★★
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Though the tyrant rajah she was forced to marry is dead, Kalinda’s troubles are far from over. A warlord has invaded the imperial city, and now she’s in exile. But she isn’t alone. Kalinda has the allegiance of Captain Deven Naik, her guard and beloved, […]
When a 200-year-old witch attacks her, sixteen-year-old bookworm Lainey Styles is determined to find a logical explanation. Even with the impossible staring her in the face, Lainey refuses to believe it—until she finds a photograph linking the witch to her dead mother.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Author: Kim Chance
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Flux Books/North Star Editions
Page Count: 408
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Cover Artist: Jake Slavik
My Review: ★★★
I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
All great wars are fought over power.
While I really wanted to love this book, I just couldn’t find it in me to rate it any higher than three stars. The first 20% sucked me in. Lainey is the typical, everyday girl that is completely unsuspecting. Her observant but sassy character was refreshing and captivating to begin with. Then, the weird and rather creepy encounter between her and the witch takes place, and the plot’s individuality and pacing goes downhill from there.
One of the biggest issues I had with this book was that Lainey persistently believed that she needed to handle these supernatural situations alone–when she lives with her uncle and his obviously “witchy” girlfriend. (view spoiler)[(By witchy I mean, is basically a witch herself) (hide spoiler)] If you live with someone who speaks about your energy regularly, and practices rituals religiously, I’d think that would be a great resource to confide in after an experience like Lainey had with encountering the dead woman. I get that some people might think you are crazy for saying these things, but that’s not the case here. It’s simply too obvious of a solution.
As Lainey continues to deny the fact that she’s seeing a ghost that is trying to communicate with her, the plot drags on for the first half of the book. Lainey meets a mysterious character named Ty, who is of the tall, dark, and handsome sorts. He instantly becomes a love-interest for Lainey, although she tries to deny that as well. Lucky for her, Ty knows more about this world she is encountering than she.
As Lainey uncovers the secret behind these odd encounters with the woman, she realizes she’s very unprepared to deal with the responsibility that has been set in her lap. Too many times these types of characters become overly-capable in an unrealistic time-frame. A crash course in self-defense turns people into super-heroes, which is what happened here. I would have liked to see more of a progression in Lainey’s abilities rather than the instantaneous progression that happened.
Despite its short-comings, this was an entertaining read. It wasn’t as in-depth, or original as I was hoping. However, its characters were likable, had some depth, and the main topic was unique. It simply needed more focus on its uniqueness in order to help it gain some distinguishability.
These numbers may not be 100% accurate, but I counted each word I came across.
“You can’t control what happens to you, only how you react to it.”
“Actions define character, not circumstances.”
“All great wars are fought over power.”