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