Having read all the books of the Sevenwaters trilogy by Juliet Marillier a couple of years ago, I was eager to read this next book. I have to say that the Sevenwaters trilogy was my favorite trilogy of this author and I have a vivid memory of staying up late trying to finish the books, especially the first one (Daughter of the Forest). Although the present book was entertaining and the story was enticing, sparking my curiosity, I must admit I felt disappointed. It read more as a romance for teenage girls, than an adult fantasy fiction book, something that I wasn’t fully expecting. Could it be that I, as a reader, have changed in what I expect of a book in the years that have gone by between reading the first three books and now? It is possible, but I do not feel like that is all there is too it.
Regardless of being lost by the characters and inconsistencies, I kept reading as the author is extremely good at creating a plot and mysteries that keep you curious (almost) until the end. However, there were a couple of things that I could not overcome:
I did not empathize OR sympathize with the protagonist. I enjoy reading about strong female characters, but the “strength” of this character seemed forced. Even more, her supposed moments of weakness seemed faked beyond measure. There seemed to be no man, god, or anything that could defeat this woman. If anyone/anything decided to argue her, they would lose. I don’t believe in Disney-like princesses, but I believe women and men in the end are all human with inherent qualities and limitations.
The book is written in two voices, however, I did not feel that the narration was coming from two different characters. I don’t know whether this was the purpose of the author, because the characters are “soul mates”, destined to each other and a matching discourse could show this “similarity” of souls, however, I felt that it didn’t work for me.
Finally, one of the biggest shortcomings for me was the lack of climax. ***SPOILERS*** The whole story directs you toward this heroic journey to a fantastic, lost island inhabited by mysterious creatures. The hall meeting that precedes it is full of omens, ideas of sacrifice and heroism, putting in peril husbands, sisters, and lovers. And suddenly, nothing happens that is truly heroic. The ship gets a little lost, but they find their way, they find what they need at the island without anyone’s hearts being broken. One of the examples that illustrates how my hopes for an unforgettable journey faded was seeing how a magical and powerful character that risks his and his family lives by coming on the journey and it ends up not having a critical role during the journey, its powers are not needed in this “perilous” journey, and the big revelation that made him leave safety turns out to be something you could just as well have told someone to pass the message along. Even here the main character is essential for everything, making you feel that if she could sail the ship and carry 50 lbs, she would have done it all by herself instead of needing the best of men for the journey.
As I said at the start, I did find it entertaining, I found that the author created a couple of mysteries and wrote in a way that kept you curious until the unfolded, but it just fell short of my expectations.