Friday, August 14, 2015

Review: The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace

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Review: The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace
The Storyspinner
Becky Wallace
Series: The Keeper Chronicles
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Publication date: March 3, 2015
by Margaret K. McElderry Books

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Drama and danger abound in this fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected.

In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure.

The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.

With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything.

The tragedy of The Storyspinner was that it was not told well.

Once you see your fellow bloggers praising this book left and right, it’s only natural to have had high expectations. The cover looked stunning, the title was very catchy, and its potential of becoming a blockbluster floated above it in big, bold letters. I mean, seriously, look at that beauty! Look at the premise! Drama and danger! A romance blossoming in the most unexpected of places! A game for the throne! Magical warriors racing for the missing heir (who could it be?! Oh my gosh!!! THE SUSPENSE!!!!!)!

First, let’s get some things out of the way:

1. The cover is misleading. The girl doesn’t even do archery. She wields a dagger, but the last time I checked, blade =/= bow and arrow.
2. Drama and danger? More like yawn. This book took its sweet time setting it up, and with so many POVs, one of them only appearing like once (what the fuck, Dom?), no character ever made me feel connected to them. Thus, the tension and danger that was supposedly here? Non-existent for me.
3. An unexpected romance. Seriously, a lost princess and the arrogant prince? That isn’t unexpected, that’s fricking cliché. It would have been okay if it wasn’t so insta-lovey, but when it keeps getting emphasized that they kept feeling something in their stomach for little things, genuine development goes out the window… Even without the predictable twist that was revealed later, it was obvious from the get-go.
4. A game for the throne?! 70% of the book was spent traveling and flirting… when the key players of the throne were there, there never felt any urgency at all… it was more like a set-up for the game for the throne in the next book.
5. Magical warriors racing for the missing heir?! In which these “magical warriors” were never explained in depth…

I didn’t like the writing in this book. I don’t really know how to explain it very well, but it felt so lazy to me, as if like it just wasn’t paced or wasn’t outlined or planned out well. I’m not sure if it was done on purpose, but it made the rest of the storyline so predictable and cliché. Like for example, in the beginning, we see the father of the heroine die while doing this acrobatic routine – then later, in the next chapter in another kingdom, we learn that there are glasses in both kingdoms that keep the magical barrier active and stable, and that they have realized that it has weakened. They then say that the guardian of the heir must have been killed or that something bad must have happened to it! When I read that, all I kept thinking was, “Well, there goes the mystery…” Because who else could it be, right?!?!?!?!

This was done again early in the book fo the “missing heir” and to other supposed “twists”, making it so terribly, terribly, terribly obvious each time. It’s like, come on, man! Make us actually look forward to knowing about these twists! Showing us your hands so early just makes the book so unmemorable and so easy to figure out. When they showed us these twists, it never got developed in a unique way, making it even more predictable and roll-eyes-worthy. Poor girl who was actually the missing heir? When told the truth, she went, “No! No! That can’t be!” Good lord, can it not be any cheesier than that?! View Spoiler » Everthing just felt so simple. There was no complexity AT ALL.

There was even this scene that pissed me off a lot. There was this guy called Leao who was supposedly a master mage who could do amazing shit. Pira was this girl who had a crush on him but couldn’t help but be stubborn about her feelings. When Leao, who I repeat was a master mage, felt that something was wrong and tried to warn his friends about it, he was quickly shut down and essentially told that it was just his imagination. LIKE WHAT THE FLYING FUCK?! Who, in their right and sane mind, would dismiss the concerns of a supposedly master mage?! The dismissal of him felt so fucking forced in order to launch a string of events. I would have liked it better if he told them, and the group heeds his warnings, but it came too late and so they adapted. Telling them and then telling him, “It’s probably your imagination!” is such a piss-poor excuse to make tension happen. At that point, I was ready to throw the book onto a wall.

Didn’t help that we have six to seven different POVs that muddled the story and made it drag to the point of boredom, rather than bring something new to the table. This should take note from Six of Crows because that book did it well. That may POVs just didn’t seem so… necessary. One of them even only appeared once, like, what the heck?! What good did that do?! Some felt so flat as well I couldn’t connect to them in an emotional level. Needless to say, I whisked through the book in no time because I just couldn’t push myself to care about what they were doing or saying. Didn’t help that the multiple POVs served the opposite – we never got any real character development done. Everything was just skin deep superficial. Even the world-building became underwhelming. Heck, I couldn’t even picture the world in here at all, or how the people looked like, or what their culture or society were supposed to be like. It’s a fantasy without the fantasy element.

And it pisses me off that because of this we never got anything done here. What was achieved was the pinpointing who was the mystery princess… which we already knew beforehand, and which was built up in such a boring, uninspiring way. No tension, no urgency, no drama, and no fucking danger… I mean, there was danger, but did I feel it? Hell to the no.

That cliffhanger wasn’t even a cliffhanger. It was an awkwardhanger. From here on out, this term exists just for this book, because the story ends in such an awkward place. It’s not even a fucking hook – it just… ends. Without getting any real story or action involved. Like I said, to me, it felt more like a set-up – and a very long, boring set-up at that.

Don’t think I’ll be reading the next book.

2.5 Stars
2.5 Hot Espressos

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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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7 Responses to “Review: The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace”

  1. Vane J.

    Wait, she doesn’t even use a bow? Wth do they even use a picture with a girl using a bow? #logicfail Oh, well, I think I’d rather avoid this. I don’t think I’d like it. :/ Great review, Faye.

  2. Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    Why oh why would they put a girl with a bow and arrow on the cover if the MC wields a dagger? Really?
    And I know what you mean, I think, about the story / telling was lazy, I had that feeling about a book I read not long ago too, and the only thing I could say about it was that it felt lazy.
    I hope your next read will truly blow you away, Faye!

  3. Jessica @ a GREAT read

    Oh bummer. I’ve heard so many great things about this that I decided to buy the book last month when I saw the author at a signing. Now I’m wondering if my initial hesitation was warranted. Sigh…

    I might still read it at some point. I’m stubborn like that! LOL! Oh well. Sad to hear that this book was a disappointment for you. Hopefully the next read will be tons better! 🙂

    Nice honest review!

  4. Lyn Kaye

    Yikes! I’ve heard a lot of praise for this one, but now I am a little more hesitant to pick it up. Some of those issues sound really, really problematic….

    And cover trap! BOOO! I was hoping for some archery!

  5. Ksenia @ Ksenia's Book Blog

    Faye, your reviews always lighten my mood, even when you rant about a book you didn’t like. Lol. I find misleading covers so annoying, and there are a lot of them recently. I’m afraid the luck of suspense and predictable twists would grate on my nerves too. As for the multiple narrations, I’ve come across very few books, where it was done well. Also can I borrow your awkwardhanger term? I have one or two books for it.