King Bardaric of Calidon is on his death bed, dying from an unknown illness, when a stranger rides into their home and demands to see the king. Prince Aric, although unable to identify this fey stranger, knows that he’ll be of some help. But what the royal family doesn’t know is that Albaric is not a stranger to them. He brings with him a shocking revelation, that is bound to solve the mystery behind the king’s illness and also threatens to disrupt the family equation.
In comparison to how excited I was upon reading the synopsis, the actual experience of reading this novel sort of fell short. The plot is undoubtedly quite intriguing with its hint of mystery, promise for politically driven action and supernatural element. I even enjoyed reading in the tone that the author adopts, to sell the story based in a monarchical society in Scotland. Her writing style is very foreign and at times, I couldn’t wrap my mind around certain usages or terms which were probably meant to compliment the culture she is bringing to life. Nevertheless I really did like Nancy Springer’s style of storytelling.
So you must be wondering, what then didn’t work for me? When I take apart the book and consider individual aspects of it, I am able to appreciate all of it a lot more. But somehow, put together, it didn’t convince me entirely. There was no gripping-factor. I merely kept reading, because of the setting and the author’s writing. I have always wanted to read more books set in Scotland. This one with its descriptions and talk of royalty had me disappointed because of all the underutilized potential.
The characters do play their part sufficiently well, but not enough to have me swooning. My favourite character arc has to be that of King Bardaric, because of the understandably extreme tangents he goes through. I was often confused by the equation between Prince Aric and Albaric. At some point, I started thinking that theirs would be a romantic relationship. I just didn’t connect with anyone. And so, while I had a tolerable reading experience, I wouldn’t particularly recommend this book. It’s not horrible, but there are way too many better fantasy fiction for you to peruse.
Ratings – 3 out of 5 stars
What do you get out of it? An adventurous YA story set in Scotland that has tons of courtly drama and some supernatural elements too.
Thank you Tachyon Publications for giving me access to this eARC via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review.