Monday, August 11, 2014

Review: Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff

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I received this book for free from Penguin Group USA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff
Published by Razorbill on August 14th 2014
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, YA
Source: Penguin Group USA
Buy on Amazon

Clementine DeVore spent ten years trapped in a cellar, pinned down by willow roots, silenced and forgotten.

Now she’s out and determined to uncover who put her in that cellar and why.

When Clementine was a child, dangerous and inexplicable things started happening in New South Bend. The townsfolk blamed the fiendish people out in the Willows and burned their homes to the ground. But magic kept Clementine alive, walled up in the cellar for ten years, until a boy named Fisher sets her free. Back in the world, Clementine sets out to discover what happened all those years ago. But the truth gets muddled in her dangerous attraction to Fisher, the politics of New South Bend, and the Hollow, a fickle and terrifying place that seems increasingly temperamental ever since Clementine reemerged.

This was a straaaange book! But most importantly: it’s deliciously creepy!

Brenna delights us with some more of her gothic, morbid, yet marvelously fascinating storytelling in her newest release. Fiendish is compelling from the very first chapter. After a quick introduction to Clementine, a slight glimpse of who she was prior, we experience her entrapment inside this cellar, held in place by willow roots, while a decade passes. The cryptic but riveting manner with which the passing of time is described had me enchanted. It was, in a way, full of desperation and longing, though strangely beautiful. All of this occurs within the first few chapters, laying the foundation – and the promise – of an eccentric, highly original road to come. Once Clementine is set free, however, is when the real excitement begins, with magic and crafts and hellhounds and fiends and other ghastly things. The horrific entities are described with hair-raising detail, set within a landscape that is vividly painted throughout.

This is a plot and mystery driven novel. In addition to the alarming present happenings, there’s a mysterious past that Clementine has yet to unscramble, and a future that remains grimly uncertain. That said, the characters themselves, although not superficial, lack the charisma and density that I require to form a true connection. This is likely due to having to juggle a large secondary cast. Townsfolk, family, antagonists; each group involving a handful of characters. Still, I found a large cast for this story was a necessary part of making it all the more interesting; it’s a balance for which I was okay with losing some to win some. Besides, the mysterious plot is more than worth it. I loved the bizarre vibe throughout this whole ordeal: Ominous signs of a second reckoning, the irrepressible magic that seems to be fueled by Clementine, the hollow (a stretch of land where evil lurks) with its seductive danger, the history of this town and its fiends. It was, to put it simply, fan-freaking-tastic!

Also on the subject of balance, with all the eeriness and horror, I was glad to have some sweet moments of awkward, youthful romance to lighten things up. Don’t expect a passion-filled, all-encompassing love story. It’s a simple, yet sweet romance that leaves you smiling.

Much like Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz, and (Don’t You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn, Fiendish is a kind of Magical Realism novel where magic is a reality that comes with no explanation for its existence, only explanations within it. If this is something you’re a fan of, along with horror and fast-paced mystery, this is one book you must not be without!

“It’s ash,” I whispered, holding out my hands to the awful dust falling all around me. “The sky is burning.”


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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9 Responses to “Review: Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff”

  1. Christina @ Between Bookends

    Oooh, this book sounds fantastically creepy! I LOVED Yovanoff’s book Paper Valentine and her short stories in The Curiosities so I’m hoping to like this one as well.
    It sucks that you couldn’t connect to the characters, but judging by your rating of the book the story picks up the slack. I’m excited to read this one, it’s exactly what I’m in the mood for. Hopefully I’ll still be in the mood for it when I finally get it in at the library.
    Great review!

  2. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    Giselle, I’m excited to see that you loved this book. I know you have been waiting to read this for the longest time now, so I’m glad it lived up to your expectations.
    I think I would really like this because the creepy seems to be done well. Although I’m more of a character-driven reader and like to feel connected to my characters, if I go into the book knowing that it isn’t one, the book won’t bother me as much.
    I must give this book a try.
    Lovely review, Giselle! 🙂

  3. Carrie

    How does someone not LOVE that cover? I’ll be buying this one for the cover alone and to boot we have a great story. Can’t wait! Great review Giselle.

    She puts out fabulous covers. I remember I bought The Replacement for the cover too.

  4. Renae @ Respiring Thoughts

    I’m so glad you liked this! Yovanoff’s novels are consistently some of my favorites (I love that she writes standalones in a genre that is mostly series). I have previously had issues connecting with her characters, so I’ll be wary about that again this time, but overall, I’m really excited to read this one!

  5. Amber Elise

    Giselle I love your reviews, they always make me want to go out and buy the book! This book sounds so up my alley, I need a creepy read!

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre

  6. Pili

    Ooooh, creepy books I like!! I was quite wondering about this one cause it sounds fantastic and now with your review I feel like I really need to grab this one!
    Thank you for your review, Giselle!