5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Wonderful, insightful, adventure. Fodder for discussion., 3 Mar 2012
In terms of storytelling, the quality of the writing on this was perhaps the best in the series. Though I liked some of the plot ideas more in some of the previous books, this one had the greatest power to suspend my disbelief. The books many twists and turns did leave me guessing like a good whodunnit. Some of the characters were downright Machiavellian, though not quite equaling "The Empress", there were parts of the book where I felt like I was at a "Wicked Queen" convention. There were certain parallels and similarities between some of the plot threads in this book and some of the previous ones in the series that made me somewhat concerned that the author had fallen into some sort of movie remake/sequel trap, however by the end, I wasn't really sad about that. Several potential explanations for that based on the characters histories and the nature of their species presented themselves fairly easily to make those similarities plausible, which I hope may be made explicit in a future addition to the series. The material that the book did cover more than made up for it. The author's references to faith are perhaps more muted than in any of the previous books in the series with only two or three noticeable but subtle instances. Rather the interesting talking points about this book seem more centered around sociology and family and group dynamics. The protagonist's intuitive understanding of how friend's and group's of people that she knew would or wouldn't behave especially in response to threats, leadership, and various power dynamics and the action's she chose to take in light of that knowledge, despite her age and lack of experience are fascinating points that would make excellent fodder for discussion especially with younger readers. There's a significant focus in the book of how trauma shapes people for good or ill, and the results of different parenting styles. I don't know if it was explicitly the Author's intention or not, but her description of the dynamics of one of the major groups in the book could easily spark a fascinating discussion on healthy vs. toxic religious groups and or families and how to best respond to them/deal with them.
Don't let my praise of its therapeutic merits scare you away. There were no long third-person sermonizing diatribes. These were all things that one could glean from the plot, narrative and characterizations, were one so inclined. There was no awkwardness. As I said this, of all the books had the greatest power to cause me to suspend disbelief, the narrative was seamless. In fact, though, I would have liked to have seen a few bits from the father's and molly's perspective, the decision to keep the narrative focused on the protagonist and in the first person really did help things along.
One thing I particularly like about this author's work is how she limits herself to the universe she creates. Sometimes when a scene might be more poignant with a complete reconciliation, no such completeness is to be found. Sometimes when a scene would be more powerful by a rescue from a knight in shining armor, the knight is only able to do what he can do. It makes the people more peopley, and the story more a reflection real relationships. It makes the book more useful in bringing out real situations and shedding perspective. Particularly this author seems to have an affection for characters that are not ruled by their emotions, who honor their word, and tell the truth even when inconvenient. She brings out both the deficits of that and the merits of that without overly glamourizing it or demonizing it. I'm tempted to compare faries to those with Asperger's.
As a Christian there was one aspect of the book that did make me a tad squeamish. Being a book about fairies, one knows going in that there's probably going to be some magic involved. However, in this particular book there was a good bit of blood based magic. On the one hand this is entirely understandable. From a Christian perspective blood does have a central role and a good bit of symbolism tied up with it, and if your goal is to acknowledge certain truths and principles regarding this, its understandable how one might make use of the metaphor. That said even with the very very best of intentions which I'm fairly certain the author has in this, the mixing of blood and magic, when its not a personification of Deity, like Aslan in Narnia, does make me a bit uncomfortable. That said, I probably would not hesitate to read this book even with younger readers, as long as I felt comfortable we could have a serious discussion about it.
All in all, this was a very worthy addition to the series, and I seriously look forward to hearing/reading any blogs/interviews the author may give with regard to the various issues she brought forth in the book. There were many complex, controversial, very relevant issues brought out in this book in ways that were not so overly overt that the dyed-in-the-wool "THERE MUST BE NO MORAL TO MY STORY!!!!" person wouldn't necessarily get upset or bored, while those prone to looking for it have plenty to wrap their mind around and digest and discuss. There are times where she doesn't even seem to express the moral, but simply presents things and people how they are, which sometimes is enough, especially when its a perspective or truth of which many would prefer not to be aware. I must admit I'm quite biased in my opinions. Rebecca is my favourite author bar none outside of the biblical authors and The Logos. I love the subtlety and winsomeness of her apologetic style and her author craft isn't so bad either. When I read her stuff I'm not only left with the feeling that that was something I wanted to read. I'm left with the feeling that that was something I wanted to write, and furthermore want to share to express and discuss things, that I fear my bluntness or acadademicness might not have expressed so well or palatabley. And being among the Sheldon's and Faraday's of the world, her kind treatment of them does engender in me a bit of a soft spot for her works. By hook or by crook, I'm quite pleased to be the first reader to review her book!