As much as I love Juliet Marillier as an author, I found that this was a book that was easy for me to put down and do something else. It didn’t grip me, in other words, and hence it took me the better part of a week to read. Which is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it. I did—and there were some things (or, ahem, some people) that I definitely liked about it.
During her dangerous journey, she receives aid from the Good Folk, who tell her she must pass a series of tests in order to recognize her full potential. She also finds help from a handsome young man, Flint, who rescues her from certain death--but whose motives in doing so remain unclear. Neryn struggles to trust her only allies. They both hint that she alone may be the key to Alban's release from Keldec's rule. Homeless, unsure of who to trust, and trapped in an empire determined to crush her, Neryn must make it to Shadowfell not only to save herself, but to save Alban.
I think the reason this book failed to draw me in was twofold. One, it’s a fairly slow story. The majority of the book is Neryn traveling, either by herself or with Flint or with some of the Good Folk (the fey creatures only she can see). And since most of the time she’s in hiding or trying to avoid other people on her journey, it’s a pretty quiet story. The main plotline is her learning more about her powers and what they might mean for the struggling kingdom, and there’s not all that much action, so while it was interesting, it didn’t really grab me.
Second, I didn’t find Neryn to be that charismatic of a narrator. I admired her for sure, but I never felt a particular connection to her and found her a tad boring. On top of that, she makes some choices that, while I totally understood her reasoning, annoyed me a bit nonetheless. I think she has potential though, and hopefully in the next two books she’ll evolve more as a character.
Now for the thing I loved a lot about the book: Flint. Oh my goodness, FLINT. That boy is a dream come true, let me tell you. I kinda feel like this book is worth reading just for him. He’s gone through terrible things and done even worse things, but beneath the guilt and self-doubt, he’s a good and kind man. And that’s the thing that gets me. That he manages to somehow hold on to that bit of goodness when anyone else in his situation would’ve lost their grip on it a long time ago. And that though he’s on the verge of giving up on himself, he doesn’t give up on those around them or his cause. I just . . . gah! FLINT!
Anyway, overall, as you can see, although this book didn’t blow me away in the same way some of Juliet Marillier’s other books have, it’s got Flint in it, and I suspect anything with Flint is worth reading.
Rating: 3.5 / 5