Sunday, October 25, 2015

Darkbeast by Morgan Keyes

Darkbeast by Morgan Keyes is a story about a land where people, when they are children, have these beings called "darkbeasts" that take away their wrongdoings, like lying and pride. Keara is the main character of this story and she chooses not to killer her darkbeast, a raven named Caw, an action that causes the Inquisitors to attempt to find her so they can help her repent of her heresy. She runs and joins the Travelers, a group of actors that go around telling stories about the history of the country via plays. She learns many things all while hiding the real reason she joined them. In the end, Keara has to choose between the life she's known or a life with Caw.

I really enjoyed this story because it's very refreshing. It's an idea that I hadn't really heard of before and it's quite nice to come across an original storyline. Keara is your typical 11 year old, except for the fact that she likes her darkbeast, Caw, more than she should. Instead of killing him she chooses to keep him alive and in doing so changes her life forever. The Travelers were enjoyable to read about, and seeing how Keara learned to present herself differently to different crowds was engaging. It was also interesting to see how Keara's attitude towards Caw changes ever so slightly. She doesn't hate him like other children seem to do, but she also seems to have more respect for him as they continue their journey. I also enjoyed reading how some people were affected by the death their darkbeasts. See, because the darkbeasts 'took away' their wrong feelings and attitudes, people didn't really get to learn how to take care of those feelings themselves. Supposedly by the time you become an adult your darkbeast has taken all your wrongness from you, and the killing of the beast represents the death of those things as well. One character, an antagonist in the story, loses her confidence in a large way at first when she kills her darkbeast. It was very enlightening to read and I thought it added a good depth to the story.

The one thing that bugged me is that Keara seemed to want to keep Caw alive because of how she felt when he 'took away' her bad feelings or attitudes. I'm hoping it gets addressed later on in the series, but it seemed like she kept him alive for selfish reasons rather than because he doesn't deserve to die.

I give this book a 9 out of 10 and I recommend it for YA fantasy readers,

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson is basically a retelling of "The Swan Princess," although I did find remnants of "Beauty and the Beast," but that could just be my opinion. This story is about a young woman who lives with her wealthy uncle. He has not forced her into any marriages and he allows her to have an education, which is unusual for the time they're in. She poaches deer in the margrave's forest at night to help feed the local poor population and during the day she teaches the poor children to read and write. She ends up having a couple of different suitors and has to decide which one to marry. One is for love and the other will provide the means to support the poor population. You'll have to read the book to find out what happens ;)

I really enjoyed this story because Odette is a woman who is doing what she believe is right based on her past experiences. However, when confronted about it with someone who sees it as wrong, she understands that is wrong as well. When she started poaching she wanted to do it to help feed the poor, but she didn't take into consideration what effect that would have on the wildlife in the forest or how it would affect the people who were in charge of taking care of the forest. I also enjoyed how "The Swan Princess" was incorporated into the story. Dickerson did a great job of keeping true to the story without the use of magic, but then again that's one of the reasons I love her books so much. The balance of the characters was pleasant to read about, and it was fun to learn about a character from a different person in the book. All in all it was a great read with a satisfying ending.

The main thing that disappointed me in this book was, once again, the romance. It may be that I just don't understand the 'instant love' type of thing, but it felt like it progressed to quickly. Not to mention the fact that the first kiss of the two main protaganists was in a public place. I could be wrong, but I just don't think that there would be enough privacy for that to happen. It may be that there were places for lovers to steal kisses, but it seemed like she went into situations where her reputation, and therefore her uncle's, could be compromised so I didn't understand why she put herself in those situations. Other than the romance developments, there wasn't a lot that I can think of to dislike about this book.

I give this book a 9 out of 10 and recommend it to YA readers of Christian Fantasy and Fairytale Retellings.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”