Author: E.H. Alger
Genre: Fantasy (Fairytale)
We begin in one of Princess Winterhued’s nightmare of cold, bones and grief. And then she wakes up one morning that’s like many others in Castle Lawhill. We don’t get thrown into the plot from the first page, we are slowly introduced to it by meeting and thus knowing different people through their conversations and feelings. From The Princess and The King down to the lowliest servant. And during this first part there is a scent of doom hanging in the air. And when the night comes their world changes.
A Dragon has descended upon the castle, not that they are sure that it is a dragon yet, and is now hunting and eating the population and in its hunt has destroyed the ways in and out. When morning comes people are now stuck in Castle Lawhill, being hunted and picked off one by one by a great silent monster. But even in this dire situation, the intrigue of court carries on. And in the east there’s a nameless knight with a pure heart riding towards Lawhill.
Everything that takes place in the story after will happen in a very short amount of time, just around half a week. Which means the book is quite slow in tempo, but surprisingly eventful Not in the *cough* dumb way an action movie is eventful with explosions and mindless violence. But by being packed to the limit with intrigue, tension and thousands of small actions that can make or break a kingdom. The butterfly effect has come to mind a lot while I was reading this book. Every cough or dropped shoe can be important and have huge effects over time.
This is the world of the old fairytales. Medieval times where people have forgotten the old legends, and the living legends may soon breathe their last. Any lover of fairytales will feel right at home here. I know I did.
The third person narration and archaic linguistic the characters speak in added an old fairytale feel to the story. And the way it flowed from character to character was a bit different than the format we are most used to. Instead of focusing on one character for a chapter or changing location when another thread/person was to be explored, it could just flow in a different direction like a gust of wind. Example; You’re following a person with a group of friends, and when they split up you just follow someone else to see what they are up to instead of the one you’ve been focusing on.
It also has a touch of horror in it. Slowly paced, creeping dread, dark places and an abundance of fear. But the tension is always lessened with excellent banter and subtle humour which turns the feel of the book to a happier note.
Wintrehued: Forward-thinking, loving and humble.
King Gers: Lazy, proud, glutton. I do think of him as a merge of Prince John and Queen of Hearts.
The knight: The strongest, the bravest and loves the world.
The characters are what you would find in many fairytales. A bitter lady in waiting, greedy and proud lords, brave and true servants, pure maidens etc. They may be a bit stereotypical, but unlike classical fairytales we get more monologue and thoughts from them to add more depth to the story. And they are really entertaining. There’s so much banter, misguided actions and useless conflict because someones pride was hurt. Imagine this, in a room of 4 we can usually find 1 humble smart person, 1 silent observer and 2 loudmouth idiots.
While the third person narration added the wonderful fairytale feel of the book, it kept me at arms length from the characters. Did I care what happened to them? Yes, they give me warm feelings and was highly amusing. Did my heart break if something bad happened to them? No, it was more of a feeling of; ”ah, that’s a shame..”
This is probably also just a side effect of the short time spent with them. During 3 days there was not a whole lot of development in the characters, nor should there be. People does not change dramatically in that short amount of time regardless of the danger. They just show their true colours.
I’ve not read anything with this style of writing before. And I loved it! Even with all the terror and unfairness in the characters treatment of each other, it is a fun and happy book. This is not an easy read you can rush trough but have to pay attention at every turn to see how artfully everything knits together at the end. It takes a while to get into this unique style of writing. But fear not, you do get into it and the experience is worth every moment.
The only thing that I found lacking was the relationships I had with the characters. It is hard to get a personal relationship with them when I’m kept a distance away by the narration and there are so many people coming and going in a short period of time. But I did enjoy following them. They made me smile a lot and the whole book was so much fun to read that I did not really care that much about this flaw in the end.
4,5 stars! This is a wonderful fairytale with both old and new elements woven together beautifully.
What I take away most strongly from this book is that even in dark and hopeless times there are, and should always be, room for light, laughter and love.
I was sent a free copy of this book for an honest review. This has in no way influenced my feelings on the book or my review