However, there were other elements of this story that didn't really add up for me, and left me feeling that the book was imbalanced. Firstly, I didn't care for the sudden expansion of the scope, going from a small village on the edge of the wood to the center of court politics. It was just one trope ontop of another in terms of setting, and it took away from the setting being on the brink of disaster. I also felt that the characters that were introduced as a result of this shift didn't really project the story forward, and because it happened very late in the narrative, I never really cared about any of those characters either, not the way you care about what happens to Nieshka and the Dragon.
Their chemistry was also something that ran awry for me in the middle of the book. Though the setup was all well and good, how their relationship as captor/ward, mentor/mentee, and then something more progressed did not feel realistic, and I couldn't sympathize. It makes no sense, and is blatantly tropey, when a girl who doesn't know she's a witch is more powerful than the most powerful wizard in the land, nor does it make sense for a virgin to magically gain some kind of sexual maturity while in said captivity, or for the smug, narrow-minded bastard that is the dragon to not shed those less desirable traits as they build romantic chemistry. In typical Beauty and the Beast stories, the gimmick is that the Beast turns out not to be as beastly as first imagined. Novik seems to have skipped that step.
I also really, really don't like when my books turn suddenly preachy at the end, which is what this one did. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be a moral lesson to fantasy, but it shouldn't be so blatantly obvious as to hit me over the head with it from left field. If I wanted to watch Fern Gully, then I would.
All in all though, the darkness of her fantasy world was very good- good enough for me to try again with Spinning Silver and hope that the other foundational elements (setting, character) are better in the next book. But fool me once...
K. Rating: 3.5/5
|Don't kid yourself - you know that's a heart tree.|
This one is special because Tim Curry is trapped inside :P