Category: Audiobook reviews

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – Review

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – ReviewThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Series: The Throne of Glass #1
Also in this series: Heir of Fire, Empire of Storms
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Elizabeth Evans
Length: 12 hours and 47 minutes
Genres: Epic Fantasy, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

I actually found this review of Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass quite difficult to write.  It tells the story of assassin turned prisoner Celaena and her participation in the competition to become the King’s Champion.  I LOVED the book and got caught up in the story and characters.  However this made it rather tricky to analyse why I liked it so much and what made it work.  Nevertheless I’ll give it a go.

What I liked

The characters.  I found our protagonist Celaena Sardothien very engaging and fun to follow.  She is strong-willed, smart, resourceful – and very funny.  It’s clear her experiences in the prison of Endovier have left their mark on her, both physically and emotionally.  Maas did however add in a few quirks to keep her real.  I liked that she wasn’t immediately up to full physical strength after her imprisonment and had to balance physical weakness with smarts.  The fact that she was terrified to stand on the glass in the glass castle was interesting.

The setting.  Now, I am a person who has a stronger affinity with words than with pictures, but I loved the mental picture that Maas conjured of the glass castle at Rifthold.  I really wish I could visit it.  I liked that the fantastical aspect of the story was kept pretty low key.  The magic is more Game of Thrones than Harry Potter.  

The love triangle.  Again this was very low key.  Unusually, both love interests seemed valid partners for Celaena – often it’s clear which one is the “right” one.  That’s not true in this case.   I look forward to seeing how both relationships develop in future books.

The pacing.  The plot is pretty straightforward with few subplots or diversions.  Maas keeps it moving along at a good pace, with always a reason to keep turning the page.

What I didn’t like

The only thing I might have to say negatively about Throne of Glass is that the King seems somewhat of a moustache twirling villain.  I like my villains to be more subtle.

I gave Throne of Glass five stars out of five and look forward to reading the sequel, Crown of Midnight.

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five-stars

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks – Review

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks – ReviewOf Poseidon by Anna Banks
Series: The Syrena Legacy #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Rebecca Gibel
Length: 9 hours and 32 mins
Genres: Supernatural, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks is a YA fantasy novel which tells the story of Emma McIntosh who after a tragic incident at a beach meets Galan Forza, one of the Syrena, or merfolk, who believes Emma may be a Syrena of the line of Poseidon, putting her in a position to end wars between the merfolk.   Emma, on the other hand, knows nothing of her heritage.  I did enjoy Of Poseidon, and will very likely read the sequels at some point.  However, I wouldn’t say the book was fantastic or a must-read.  

What I liked

Fun protagonist.  I really liked the way Emma was written.  She is fun, sparky and realistic.  I enjoyed her interactions with Galen and the rest of his entourage.  I was disappointed we didn’t get to see more of her friendship with Chloe – that would have been fun to read about.  I felt the tragedy gave Emma more depth than she might have otherwise had.

Interesting subplots.  There are several subplots woven throughout the story and they were well done – it was also great the way they were woven into the main plot in the end reveal. 

The worldbuilding.  I enjoyed the world of the Syrena that Banks built, even though we didn’t get to see a great deal of it.  We learned of it mainly through the mythology and history and second hand from Galen and his friends.  I hope to see more of it first hand from Emma’s perspective in future books.

The narration.  I enjoyed Rebecca Gibel’s narration.  She brought out Emma’s spunkiness and Galen’s initial hastiness very well.

What I didn’t like

The romantic subplot.  I didn’t buy into the whole instant attraction thing.  I also felt the obstacle placed in the way of their romance was rather contrived.

Despite that, Of Poseidon is definitely a fun way to pass a few hours.  I gave it three and a half stars out of four.

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three-half-stars

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare – review

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare – reviewCity of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Jason Dohring, Sophie Turner
Length: 20 hours and 38 minutes
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: three-stars

City of Heavenly Fire is the sixth and final book in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series. It is the final chapter in the fight between Sebastian and Team Good for control of the world itself.  There has been major hype and excitement about this book, closing off as it does, the adventures of much loved characters.

For me personally, I found the book somewhat of a disappointment.  This is the final book in the series and far too often Clare took the easy road.

What I liked

Setup for the next trilogy.  It is perhaps a measure of my disappointment that the aspect of this book I found most intriguing was the setup for the next series, The Dark Artifices.  TDA is set in LA and is centred around Emma Carstairs and her friend Julian Blackthorn, whom we meet in this book.  At first I’d been unconvinced about the LA setting – for me vampires/werewolves/demons etc have an old world feel, and seemed better suited to the older cities of New York and London.  However Clare completely convinced me LA was a valid setting and I really loved the character of Emma.  She is still little more than a child in The Mortal Instruments, but I sense that she is going to be a kick-ass heroine with considerable depth.  City of Heavenly Fire does give hints as to where The Dark Artifices may go in terms of storyline.  Bring them on!

The Faerie storyline.  I found this very interesting.  It was one of the few plot points in the book that took me by surprise.  I liked that the Shadowhunters’ arrogance is likely to have serious fallout in The Dark Artifices.

Some nice character development.  Where it existed, the character development was nicely done – I enjoyed how Magnus Bane and Isabelle Lightwood were written.  Not so much the others.

The Infernal Devices references.  Clare has made no secret of the fact that characters from The Infernal Devices have a role to play in City of Heavenly Fire.  The epilogue of Clockwork Princess confirmed it.  Even though their involvement was pretty much as predicted, I still enjoyed reading about Brother Zachariah and Tessa Gray.  I also loved the Jessamine shoutout!

The narration.  I did enjoy Sophie Turner’s and Jason Dohring’s narration, although I would describe it as competent rather than excellent.  I still don’t understand why some characters have British accents and others American.

What I didn’t like

Easy way out.  This is the final book in the series.  Our protagonists are in the middle of a war to the death, and yet only minor characters appeared to suffer long term consequences from the events of the series as a whole.  Even a major character’s significant sacrifice – which could have added a real emotional impact to the series is all but reversed in the epilogue.  For me this robbed the book of any emotional punches. The only characters who seems to have come through the war with any character development at all are Magnus and Izzy.  It could have been so much more.  Compared to Clockwork Princess, the ending is weak and safe.  Clare could have done so much better.

Rather predictable.  Much of what happened was rather predictable.  I won’t say too much more to avoid spoilers, but there was little that surprised me in the plotting of the book

All in all, I found City of Heavenly Fire a rather disappointing finish to The Mortal Instruments.   I gave it three stars out of five.

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IndieBound

three-stars

Ironskin by Tina Connolly – review

Ironskin by Tina Connelly is a retelling of Jane Eyre with a fantasy twist.  Unlike similar classic/fantasy blends such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Jane Slayre, Ironskin avoids the humorous side of such a juxtaposition and plays it relatively straight.  It tells the story of Jane Eliot, a young woman who must wear an iron mask to contain the effects of a injury sustained in the war against the fae.  Although the war is long over, she is still very much an outcast and takes employment with one Mr. Rochart looking after his young daughter, Dorie.  Dorie, it seems, has also been affected by the fae.

What I liked

The adaptation.  This version, while not following the exact plotline of Jane Eyre, does an excellent job of maintaining the characterisations and emotional beats of the original story.  Like Jane Eyre, our Jane Eliot lives at the fringes of her society, and this has a large influence on her character.  Edward too, is very similar to the Edward Rochester of the book – his guilt for his past is a block in his admitting his feelings for Jane.  Ironskin focusses mainly on the Jane/Edward relationship and hits most of the same emotional beats as the original with the love, betrayal and reunion.  I didn’t feel Ironskin came quite up to the emotion of the Jane Eyre ending where Jane is finally reunited with Rochester.  The fae side of the story was nicely woven in along with this key relationship.

Beauty as a theme.  This is an interesting theme woven throughout the novel.  Jane, physically scarred as she is by the Great War, is very sensitive to this, especially as she sees the “pretty ladies” who congregate around Edward.  She must decide how best to compete for the love of the man she adores.  The whole fey beauty becomes a major plot point.

Supporting characters.  Although it focusses on Jane and Edward, I did enjoy the supporting characters in the book, especially Poole (half dwarven!) and Dorie.  I liked how Jane’s relationships with them are developed through the book.

The narration.  I was drawn to Ironskin as much by the plot as the audio narration sample.  When deciding whether to buy the Audible book or the Kindle ebook I often listen to the sample.  I loved Rosalyn Landor’s voice and narration in the sample and she did not disappoint in the least.  I loved the entire narration.  Maybe it’s because I am British (soon to be Canadian!), I generally warm to British narrators more than American ones.  Landor narrates this with a wonderfully rich received pronunciation accent and brings a lot of life to the tale.

Check out the sample here.

The pacing.  With the focus on Jane’s time at the manor, the story moves along briskly.  Like in the original, there are several hints at Rochart’s secret, and this keeps the audience intrigued.

What I didn’t like.

There was little I disliked about Ironskin.  There were a few occasions where a more modern turn of phrase was used which I found a little off-putting, but other than that I really enjoyed it.  Ironskin is the first in a series of books set in this world.  The second, Copperhead, follows Jane’s younger sister, Helen.  To be honest, I’ll probably give that a miss as the character of Helen rather irritating in Ironskin and I have no interest in following her story.  However, the third book, Silverblind, due out later this year follows a grown up Dorie.  Now that I am interested in, and will certainly pick it up in audiobook when it’s available.

I gave Ironskin four and a half stars out of five.

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Ironskin by Tina Connolly – review

Ironskin by Tina Connolly – reviewIronskin by Tina Connolly
Series: Ironskin #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Rosalyn Landor
Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
Genres: Classics, Contemporary Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Ironskin by Tina Connelly is a retelling of Jane Eyre with a fantasy twist.  Unlike similar classic/fantasy blends such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Jane Slayre, Ironskin avoids the humorous side of such a juxtaposition and plays it relatively straight.  It tells the story of Jane Eliot, a young woman who must wear an iron mask to contain the effects of a injury sustained in the war against the fae.  Although the war is long over, she is still very much an outcast and takes employment with one Mr. Rochart looking after his young daughter, Dorie.  Dorie, it seems, has also been affected by the fae.

What I liked

The adaptation.  This version, while not following the exact plotline of Jane Eyre, does an excellent job of maintaining the characterisations and emotional beats of the original story.  Like Jane Eyre, our Jane Eliot lives at the fringes of her society, and this has a large influence on her character.  Edward too, is very similar to the Edward Rochester of the book – his guilt for his past is a block in his admitting his feelings for Jane.  Ironskin focusses mainly on the Jane/Edward relationship and hits most of the same emotional beats as the original with the love, betrayal and reunion.  I didn’t feel Ironskin came quite up to the emotion of the Jane Eyre ending where Jane is finally reunited with Rochester.  The fae side of the story was nicely woven in along with this key relationship.

Beauty as a theme.  This is an interesting theme woven throughout the novel.  Jane, physically scarred as she is by the Great War, is very sensitive to this, especially as she sees the “pretty ladies” who congregate around Edward.  She must decide how best to compete for the love of the man she adores.  The whole fey beauty becomes a major plot point.

Supporting characters.  Although it focusses on Jane and Edward, I did enjoy the supporting characters in the book, especially Poole (half dwarven!) and Dorie.  I liked how Jane’s relationships with them are developed through the book.

The narration.  I was drawn to Ironskin as much by the plot as the audio narration sample.  When deciding whether to buy the Audible book or the Kindle ebook I often listen to the sample.  I loved Rosalyn Landor’s voice and narration in the sample and she did not disappoint in the least.  I loved the entire narration.  Maybe it’s because I am British (soon to be Canadian!), I generally warm to British narrators more than American ones.  Landor narrates this with a wonderfully rich received pronunciation accent and brings a lot of life to the tale.

Check out the sample here.

The pacing.  With the focus on Jane’s time at the manor, the story moves along briskly.  Like in the original, there are several hints at Rochart’s secret, and this keeps the audience intrigued.

What I didn’t like.

There was little I disliked about Ironskin.  There were a few occasions where a more modern turn of phrase was used which I found a little off-putting, but other than that I really enjoyed it.  Ironskin is the first in a series of books set in this world.  The second, Copperhead, follows Jane’s younger sister, Helen.  To be honest, I’ll probably give that a miss as the character of Helen rather irritating in Ironskin and I have no interest in following her story.  However, the third book, Silverblind, due out later this year follows a grown up Dorie.  Now that I am interested in, and will certainly pick it up in audiobook when it’s available.

I gave Ironskin four and a half stars out of five.

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four-stars

The One by Kiera Cass – Review

The One by Kiera Cass is the final book in the Selection trilogy which tells the story of America Singer and her participation in the Bachelor type contest to win the heart and hand of Prince Maxon.  I absolutely ADORED this book and would have happily read it had it been three times as long.  Cass continued to develop the things I loved about the earlier books and my minor gripes about the series were all resolved.

Before I start I would like to reecho the comment I made in an earlier post about the Selection Collection – the ebook compendium that includes all three novels plus the two novellas, The Guard and The Prince.  I honestly don’t know what the editor who put it together was thinking: they have the two novellas following on after The One which makes zero sense.  The Prince is set before The Selection and The Guard is set between The Elite and The One.  If you read them in the order presented in the compendium you’re going to end up frustrated because all of the great character development of the later books is reset.  

What I liked

The blend.  In The One, Cass has achieved a wonderful balance between romance, politics, worldbuilding and character development.  It all fitted together perfectly  and made a gripping story.

Character development.  All three of the main characters seemed to gain a great deal of maturity in this book.  This is particularly true in the case of Aspen, a character whom I’d actively disliked in earlier books.  Not only did I end up liking him a lot more, but I could also respect him which is saying a lot.  In general, too, I felt America handled her romantic situation in more of an adult fashion in this book, although she did have flashes of immaturity to keep her endearing.  I liked that characters who’d seemed a little two dimensional such as Celeste became a lot more human as America’s growing maturity gave her a more understanding perspective of them.  This was an aspect of the book that I felt was particularly beautifully written.  I noted in my review of The Elite that at times it seemed that America wouldn’t necessarily be the best candidate to take on the role of princess.  By the end of The One, Cass has convinced me that she can handle it.

The triangle.  This was one aspect which had really irritated me about the earlier books, but I felt it was exceptionally well handled here.  I appreciated that America finally resolved her feelings for the two men in her life after a date in which they had an open and honest conversation.  It also helped that that date in the rain was super adorable!  That’s not to say that things were plain sailing after that – she still made mistakes but that kept her human.

That scene at the winner announcement.  Holy crap.  It’s not often that I have to back up and reread a few paragraphs thinking bloody hell, did that just happen?  But in this case I did.  It caught me completely off guard.  After the fact though, it’s obvious that Cass has done her work well.  All the signs and foreshadowing were there if I’d been paying attention.  

The narration.  I’d not been too fond of Amy Rubinate’s narration of The Selection and The Elite.  Perhaps it was because I enjoyed her narration of Rebel Belle so much that I did enjoy the narration of The One much more.

What I didn’t like

Aborted plotlines.  There were at least one or two plotlines which really intrigued me and then seemed to disappear.  One of these in particular I felt could have led to some really interesting conflict, but was resolved rather easily.

This is a very minor gripe, so do I really have to say that I gave The One five stars out of five?  So far it’s one of my favourite books of the year, up there with Cress.  Go read it.  Now.  

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The One by Kiera Cass – Review

The One by Kiera Cass – ReviewThe One by Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #3
Also in this series: The Selection, The Elite
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Amy Rubinate
Length: 7 hours and 25 minutes
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

The One by Kiera Cass is the final book in the Selection trilogy which tells the story of America Singer and her participation in the Bachelor type contest to win the heart and hand of Prince Maxon.  I absolutely ADORED this book and would have happily read it had it been three times as long.  Cass continued to develop the things I loved about the earlier books and my minor gripes about the series were all resolved.

Before I start I would like to reecho the comment I made in an earlier post about the Selection Collection – the ebook compendium that includes all three novels plus the two novellas, The Guard and The Prince.  I honestly don’t know what the editor who put it together was thinking: they have the two novellas following on after The One which makes zero sense.  The Prince is set before The Selection and The Guard is set between The Elite and The One.  If you read them in the order presented in the compendium you’re going to end up frustrated because all of the great character development of the later books is reset.  

What I liked

The blend.  In The One, Cass has achieved a wonderful balance between romance, politics, worldbuilding and character development.  It all fitted together perfectly  and made a gripping story.

Character development.  All three of the main characters seemed to gain a great deal of maturity in this book.  This is particularly true in the case of Aspen, a character whom I’d actively disliked in earlier books.  Not only did I end up liking him a lot more, but I could also respect him which is saying a lot.  In general, too, I felt America handled her romantic situation in more of an adult fashion in this book, although she did have flashes of immaturity to keep her endearing.  I liked that characters who’d seemed a little two dimensional such as Celeste became a lot more human as America’s growing maturity gave her a more understanding perspective of them.  This was an aspect of the book that I felt was particularly beautifully written.  I noted in my review of The Elite that at times it seemed that America wouldn’t necessarily be the best candidate to take on the role of princess.  By the end of The One, Cass has convinced me that she can handle it.

The triangle.  This was one aspect which had really irritated me about the earlier books, but I felt it was exceptionally well handled here.  I appreciated that America finally resolved her feelings for the two men in her life after a date in which they had an open and honest conversation.  It also helped that that date in the rain was super adorable!  That’s not to say that things were plain sailing after that – she still made mistakes but that kept her human.

That scene at the winner announcement.  Holy crap.  It’s not often that I have to back up and reread a few paragraphs thinking bloody hell, did that just happen?  But in this case I did.  It caught me completely off guard.  After the fact though, it’s obvious that Cass has done her work well.  All the signs and foreshadowing were there if I’d been paying attention.  

The narration.  I’d not been too fond of Amy Rubinate’s narration of The Selection and The Elite.  Perhaps it was because I enjoyed her narration of Rebel Belle so much that I did enjoy the narration of The One much more.

What I didn’t like

Aborted plotlines.  There were at least one or two plotlines which really intrigued me and then seemed to disappear.  One of these in particular I felt could have led to some really interesting conflict, but was resolved rather easily.

This is a very minor gripe, so do I really have to say that I gave The One five stars out of five?  So far it’s one of my favourite books of the year, up there with Cress.  Go read it.  Now.  

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five-stars

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins – Review

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins is a young adult supernatural novel which tells the story of Southern belle teen Harper Price who, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, finds herself with supernatural abilities and the awesome responsibility that comes along with them.  While there was a lot I liked about the book, there was still a great deal I felt could have been handled better.
 
What I liked

The writing style.  This is the first book by Hawkins that I have read and I did really enjoy her fresh, witty writing style.  There was a lot of humour to be mined from the juxtaposition of Harper’s Southern belle character and her new kickass ninja powers and I enjoyed that very much.   I also felt the pacing was kept brisk and the storyline moved along nicely.
 
The narration.  I listened to Rebel Belle in audiobook format, which is narrated by Amy Rubinate.  Now, I’d not been too fond of Rubinate’s narration of Kiera Cass’s The Selection series, but I did enjoy listening to her read Rebel Belle.  Perhaps the smart, sassy heroine of this book is better suited to Rubinate’s narrative style.  Here’s a sample
 
 
  
The concept. The concept of oracles, paladins and mages was very interesting and i enjoyed reading about it.  However, the execution wasn’t always logical and/or consistent.
 
What I didn’t like

Bland characters.  Other than Harper, the other characters come across as very two dimensional.  Ryan, Harper’s original love interest, is nice but there’s nothing to distinguish him from a million other teenage boys.  The villain of the piece is also very underdeveloped.  She is not present enough in the book to develop sufficient tension.  
 
Harper’s “logic”.  At times I became so frustrated with Harper’s way of thinking.  So many times she seemed to find that two plus two equals five and at other times she seemed to willfully ignore what was right in front of her.  While some of it I could put down to unreliable narrator, a lot of it did seem very convenient.  At times I was uncertain if it was good characterisation that a lot of Harper’s motivations come from personal grief, or if the way the character was written was clumsy.   The ending was also very contrived.  The error she makes at the end just doesn’t make any sense.  
 
I gave Rebel Belle three and a half stars out of five.  I probably will check out the next book in the series.  I hear Hawkins’ Hex Hall series is better so I will probably pick that up at some point.
 
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Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins – Review

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins – ReviewRebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
Series: Rebel Belle #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Amy Rubinate
Length: 9 hrs and 22 mins
Genres: Supernatural, Young Adult
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins is a young adult supernatural novel which tells the story of Southern belle teen Harper Price who, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, finds herself with supernatural abilities and the awesome responsibility that comes along with them.  While there was a lot I liked about the book, there was still a great deal I felt could have been handled better.
 
What I liked

The writing style.  This is the first book by Hawkins that I have read and I did really enjoy her fresh, witty writing style.  There was a lot of humour to be mined from the juxtaposition of Harper’s Southern belle character and her new kickass ninja powers and I enjoyed that very much.   I also felt the pacing was kept brisk and the storyline moved along nicely.
 
The narration.  I listened to Rebel Belle in audiobook format, which is narrated by Amy Rubinate.  Now, I’d not been too fond of Rubinate’s narration of Kiera Cass’s The Selection series, but I did enjoy listening to her read Rebel Belle.  Perhaps the smart, sassy heroine of this book is better suited to Rubinate’s narrative style.  Here’s a sample
 
 
  
The concept. The concept of oracles, paladins and mages was very interesting and i enjoyed reading about it.  However, the execution wasn’t always logical and/or consistent.
 
What I didn’t like

Bland characters.  Other than Harper, the other characters come across as very two dimensional.  Ryan, Harper’s original love interest, is nice but there’s nothing to distinguish him from a million other teenage boys.  The villain of the piece is also very underdeveloped.  She is not present enough in the book to develop sufficient tension.  
 
Harper’s “logic”.  At times I became so frustrated with Harper’s way of thinking.  So many times she seemed to find that two plus two equals five and at other times she seemed to willfully ignore what was right in front of her.  While some of it I could put down to unreliable narrator, a lot of it did seem very convenient.  At times I was uncertain if it was good characterisation that a lot of Harper’s motivations come from personal grief, or if the way the character was written was clumsy.   The ending was also very contrived.  The error she makes at the end just doesn’t make any sense.  
 
I gave Rebel Belle three and a half stars out of five.  I probably will check out the next book in the series.  I hear Hawkins’ Hex Hall series is better so I will probably pick that up at some point.
 
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three-half-stars

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige – Review

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige was one of my most anticipated reads of the season.  I read and loved the prequel – No Place Like Oz –  and indeed my desire to read Dorothy Must Die sent me into a reading slump for a while as nothing else hit the spot.  Having read it, I can say that, while there was a lot to enjoy about Dorothy Must Die it didn’t quite live up to my anticipation.

What I liked

The protagonist.  I really liked our protagonist, Amy Gumm, and enjoyed following her journey. She is a strong, kick-ass heroine, yet is dealing with her own internal demons and has her own buttons that can be pressed.  Coming from Kansas as she does, she is the reader’s inroad to Dorothy’s Oz.  Many parallels are drawn between Amy and Dorothy; both are originally from Kansas, both were feeling trapped in their mundane lives with little escape from their farm/small town before their arrival in Oz.  Both are sensitive to the magic that is all around in Oz.

The worldbuilding.  While it’s fair to say that L. Frank Baum did a lot of the heavy lifting in his creation of the world of Oz, Paige has added her own twist to the world.   Baum’s Oz is clearly identifiable in the book, but there is a much darker twist to it with Dorothy’s influence.  It’s based on the children’s novels rather than the 1939 Judy Garland film in that there are characters mentioned who are in the books not in the movie, and also that the original slippers are silver not red.  I would suggest you read No Place Like Oz first before coming to Dorothy Must Die to get an idea of the background.

Good vs Wicked and Trust.  The question of trust and whom to trust and whom not to trust comes up too many times for it not to be a major theme in the series.  Amy is working for the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked and is repeatedly advised by the operatives not to trust anyone.  It’s clear that they don’t trust Amy either, keeping her in the dark until the last possible moment.  It’s a common trope in good vs evil fantasy that the good guys always win because they trust their colleagues to have their backs and are willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good whereas the bad guys are too busy looking out for themselves to implement any cohesive plans or trust their colleagues to work with them.  Although the so-called wicked have come together in Dorothy Must Die they don’t have that trust that good guys have.  It’s an interesting twist and I look forward to seeing how it plays out in subsequent books.

Writing style.  I did enjoy Paige’s writing style.  It came across as fresh and immediate and really brought me into the story.

What I didn’t like

Pacing.  Here we come to the main problem I had with Dorothy Must Die; the pacing was off.  For a significant chunk of the first half of the book Amy is training with the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked yet, due to trust issues mentioned above, has not been given a goal to work towards except the vague Dorothy Must Die.  This section drags on far too long and really slows the book down.  I would encourage you to work past this section though – it improves a lot once Amy is working on a more specific goal.

Misleading marketing.  HarperCollins’ blurb for Dorothy Must Die contains the following:

“My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas.I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.I’ve been trained to fight.And I have a mission: Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart.Steal the Scarecrow’s brain.Take the Lion’s courage.Then and only then—Dorothy must die!”

If that is the blurb you’re using to hook readers into the book, it might be a good idea to have your protagonist actually work towards that goal in that book and not have it be a supposed finale twist that Dorothy can’t die until the Tin Woodman, Scarecrow and Lion have been neutralised.  Clearly, it’s a blurb for the series as a whole not just Dorothy Must Die.  When reading the book please bear this in mind so that you are not frustrated at the end.

The audio narration.  In general I really liked Devon Sorvari’s narration.  She really brought out Amy’s strength of character and kick-ass attitude.  However there were long pauses left at the end of each paragraph – long enough to be very noticeable and very irritating.  I kept wondering if I’d reached the end of a chapter.  Of course, it may not bother you at all.  Here’s a sample.

In general though I really enjoyed Dorothy Must Die and will definitely continue with the rest of the series.  Amy is a really great character and I love the world of Oz.  I look forward to seeing more.

I gave Dorothy Must Die four stars out of five.

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