‘Dark Heroine: Dinner With a Vampire’ Review

‘Dark Heroine: Dinner With a Vampire’ Review

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I’d picked up the sequel to this novel in the library, knowing I’d had the first one in the series at home waiting to be read. I was interested in the premise, and hoped it would have a refreshing take on the genre. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

This novel was basically one whole Stolkholm Syndrome trip. It was painted as a romance, but I’m sorry – there is nothing remotely romantic about being kidnapped and held hostage. Nothing. Plus the romantic interest, Kaspar, was not romantic in the slightest!! His character was so sexist towards the protagonist, Violet, that I really don’t see where the romantic story line came from. He was constantly horrible to Violet, yet somehow towards the end there’s a romance plot between them? I mean, what?? Where has this come from? He kidnapped her from her family, FOR NO APPARENT REASON, and is horrible to her and she decides “OOOO YES THIS IS THE ONE I WANT TO GO OUT WITH.” This was so frustrating! Don’t even get me started on the use of “Girly”, Kaspar’s nickname for Violet – I think this was intended as a flirtatious thing but it was just awkward and clunky. Plus it didn’t sit well with the rest of the dialogue so stuck out like a sore thumb.

I liked how Abigail Gibbs launched us straight into the action – however I am so confused as to what the motivation was for keeping Violet alive. Gibbs made an effort to make a point of her version of vampires being cold blooded killers, especially in the opening scene where they murder around 30 people in the middle of Trafalgar Square – plot hole being I’m sure London is much busier than my hometown in the middle of nowhere would be, so surely there would have been loads of people milling around even at that time of night? So there would have been more witnesses than just the protagonist? Due to Gibbs trying hard to make readers interpret vampires as predators, surely they would have killed Violet without a second thought when they saw she had witnessed the mass murder? Even if it was one of the other vampires and not Kaspar, who Gibbs especially made an effort to paint as a moody character.

Plus there was no chemistry between Kaspar and Violet, so I found the romance so hard to believe. Though Gibbs’ characterisation seemed off through out the whole novel to be honest. Violet and Fabian’s interaction for instance – Fabian portrayed as a good friend who tries to be nice and welcome Violet into their world, then out of nowhere develops a massive crush on Violet and turns into the “nice guy”. “Nice guy” of course referring to that bloke who tries to be all nicey nicey and then thinks he’s entitled to sex from you and then complains when you say “Woah dude not interested” and they complain about being friend zoned (DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON THAT CRAP) and start crying about how they’re a “nice guy” and how could you possibly do this to them??? My point being that Fabian had not been written as this kind of jerk. He had been written as a nice friend who was on Violet’s side. Then we get on to Lyla’s characterisation – she was also written at first as a nice friend who welcomed Violet into their world – then all of a sudden there’s a random romance line between Lyla and Fabian. Lyla is then jealous of Fabian’s random attraction towards Violet and she suddenly hates Violet’s guts? This just seemed a completely random direction to take the plot in. Then later on basically everyone hates Violet and this is not explained at all – and she STILL SHOWS NO DESIRE TO RUN BACK HOME. This was completely unbelievable!

One of my main issues with this plot was that there was no plot! Violet gets kidnapped, and after one failed escape attempt when she was first taken to the vampire manor Violet then doesn’t even return to the idea of escaping and spends her days sat in her room on her bed. I’m sorry but how is this a romantic story line? This just seemed so wrong – the character would surely be trying more ways to escape through out the narrative. Then when she gets the chance to escape, she doesn’t take it. ARGGGGH! So frustrating! There is absolutely no plot if she spends her days sitting in her room! That is not an interesting story! I really wanted to see Violet escape back to her home life, but this didn’t happen and it was so frustrating. I couldn’t get invested in the romance because I despised the love interest, and the romance plot line seemed to be romanticising an abusive relationship with how Kaspar treated Violet.

There were some pet peeves about the writing style that really niggled on me. The fact that Violet hears a voice in her head – yeah, fine – but it was the way Gibbs described it. “Blah blah blah, my voice said.” Argh! No! Just leave the italics there, we know it’s the character thinking to themselves! Although this entire writing device was unnecessary because the novel was written entirely in first person. Plus there were SO. MANY. TYPOS! I can forgive the odd typo, as not even a publisher is going to catch every single mistake. But these occurred so often in the narrative that it was really jarring – like saying “Me heart skipped a beat” instead of “MY heart skipped a beat.” So many stem words that weren’t changed to fit the context of the sentence like that. It was so annoying! Then there were mistakes like “He slung an arm around my shoulder. ‘Blah blah blah’ he said, slinging an arm around my shoulder.” ARGH. This is just lazy writing – this is an example that should have been cut in the first redraft!

The only interesting plot points occurred at the ball that Violet was invited to where she was attacked, then we had to wait HUNDREDS OF PAGES before another interesting plot point happened – when the vampires found out it was Violet’s father who had ordered their Queen’s assassination. The ending was so disappointing as well. There was just a complete lack of plot, and Gibbs clearly had no idea where she was taking the story. Most of this novel was a load of complete waffle. Plus Gibbs tried to make the story more interesting by adding the concept of different dimensions, but didn’t really explain this at all. It just made the narrative more confusing! As well as this ‘dark heroine’ concept that really wasn’t that well explained, so that the reader didn’t really get the significance of it. Who are the dark heroines and why are they so significant? Who knows, because Gibbs didn’t bother explaining that to the reader. This made the overall concept all jumbled and horrible and it meant it made no sense whatsoever. Plus it was obvious Violet was a dark heroine – why else have a female main character in a book called “The Dark Heroine”? It was just a little too cliche for me.

It took me way longer than it should have done to finish reading this novel because there was so much waffle that I didn’t really get excited about reading it. I didn’t get gripped and think “Ooo I can’t wait to see what happens next!” It was really disappointing. There were so many things that bothered me about this novel that any good things I found in it were completely overshadowed. This novel could have been way more concise, and I really didn’t like the overall premise of the story. I would give it a 2/5, as I really wanted Gibbs to show a refreshing take on the genre but she just didn’t. Plus I really wanted Violet to escape from her captors and instead we had them being romanticised.

 

 

 

@AuthorAbigailG

 

‘The Sellout’ Review

‘The Sellout’ Review

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Literary fiction and I don’t tend to get on. This is mainly due to my uni lecturers from the School of English having a major love affair with the genre, yet denouncing every other genre that exists because if it’s not literary, it’s not worth reading. I have MAJOR issues with that rubbish statement, but that would be another long ranting blog post that I’m sure no one really wants to read. However I had heard such rave reviews of Paul Beatty’s ‘The Sellout’, that I was naturally curious as to what the fuss was all about.

‘The Sellout’ was quite a difficult read and took me a while to get through it, and after having read it I have some mixed feelings about it. It is undeniably good, and undeniably a novel that needed to be written – especially with what’s going on in America today towards black people. I find it so hard to hear about these things still happening in 2017, especially over something so stupid as what someone’s skin colour just so happens to be. The novel was hard work, but Beatty painted the issues black people face in such an innovating way.

Beatty seemed to have gone for the most drastic descriptions and images that he could – everything seemed to be an extreme caricature of stereotypical people and situations. Parts of the narrative were so cleverly done – especially when the protagonist’s father died at the hands of the police. There were so many clever satirical passages like this to highlight how black people are still treated as inferior in America by some.

I really liked this clever angle to Beatty’s novel, however parts of the narrative were so hard to read. This was mainly due to some parts appearing really nonsensical – though I think this was all a part of creating the larger picture of the stereotypical caricature. Plus the constant use of the word ‘nigger’ – a horrific word which due to the constant repitition almost desentised the reader to its use through out the narrative. Perhaps as a way to highlight how the constant horrific happenings in America are desensitising the general public as to what is happening to its black people? Perhaps the protagonist trying to get the city of Dickens put back on the map represents black history, and how all of the suffering is a part of their history – especially with what is still happening in America.

Most importantly, this was definitely a story that needed to be told by a black man. It’s not something that a middle class white person could tell – despite having the best of intentions – as we have not suffered as they have. Despite being hard work to read, this was an immensely clever story that really makes you think. It has such a powerful message behind it, but I don’t think literary fiction and I will be getting on well any time soon. I would give it a 4/5 because of its powerful message, but it wasn’t the easiest of books to dive into and wouldn’t have been my favourite of novels.

 

 

http://themanbookerprize.com/books/sellout-by-paul-beatty

 

‘Lumberjanes’ Vol 1 Review

‘Lumberjanes’ Vol 1 Review

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This was a nice little concept for a graphic novel – following a girl guides style group on their misadventures, with some fairly strong characters to keep readers interested. My one problem with this comic was it was way too short!! The authors did a good job of the characterisation, but didn’t really give them enough space in the first volume to do them justice.

I really liked the girls – I liked how independent they were, as well as how they always seemed to get into mischief but also work as a team to get themselves out of it again. I just wish we had had a longer volume so as to get to know them better! The art was absolutely beautiful as well. There was something so effortless and simplistic about the art style that really complimented the characters personalities.

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The villain was intriguing, but again I think this volume was too short to really get a feel for where the authors wanted to take this story wise. They created tension well, and a bit of mystery as to who the antagonist actually was and what they were up to – combined with the first few pages in the woods and the demon foxes. I liked the overall concept and where the narrative arc seemed to be taking the characters, but I do think this volume needed to be longer. There needed to be more of a hook in the story towards the end of the volume to make me feel like I really needed to pick up the next volume, but I felt disappointed when this didn’t come.

I loved the team work the characters used, as well as the overall message about how important friendship is. It was so refreshing to read a story about a group of friends that had no main focus on romance whatsoever! There was a hint at two of the girls being romantically involved, but this was done in such an unobtrusive way that it was so cute! Plus it was so refreshing to see a lesbian relationship rather than have the girls fawning over the boys scouts group towards the end of the volume. It was nice to see that the authors didn’t make a bigger deal of this, because younger readers need to understand that romance isn’t everything in life! And honestly that pairing was so cute it was nice to see some diversity rather than the boy meets girl trope.

Overall I really liked Lumberjanes Vol 1 and would give it a 4/5 – it misses out on the 5/5 because it would have been nicer to see more of the story in this volume and to get more of a feel for who the antagonist is. Plus the friendship storyline was so cute and gave such a positive message to the reader.

 

@Lumberjanes

Whistle Down The Wind

Whistle Down The Wind

 

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This is going to have a bit of everything in it, mostly to do with adaptation. Back in November, I auditioned for a part in a musical that was being put on locally: Whistle Down the Wind. I didn’t expect to get anything too important, just as long as I was involved. Though I ended up getting the lead female role of Cathy Bostock, the eldest daughter! I never get lead stuff like this, so naturally I wanted to give it my best shot. Which included reading the original novel the musical was adapted from as research, written by Mary Hayley Bell.

‘Whistle Down the Wind’ is undoubtedly a children’s novel. It is told from Brat’s point of view, who is the middle child between Swallow (my character!) and Poor Baby. Brat details how Swallow and their friend Elizabeth find a stranger in their barn, who they assume to be Jesus as he cried this out when asked who he was. There is something charming about Brat’s narrative – Bell maintains a clear sense of this through out the whole novel, using phrases like: ‘This really annoyed me. It did, really.’ The repetition of ‘this did, really’ at the end of sentences re-enforcing the child like quality to the authorial voice. This added to the naive quality that the children show through out the whole novel – Brat seems to doubt whether this man actually is Jesus until she sees holes in his feet, which she assumes to have come from being crucified. There was something charming about the fact these children believed this man was the son of God, and there was something so sweet about how they helped him without question. To me that is what religion should be about: showing one another how to be good people – not using it as an excuse to think you’re right about everything.

If I could only use one thing to describe the whole novel it would be that: sweetly naive. The unwavering trust of the children represents their innocence, and how they want to preserve this forever by their mistrust of the adults in the novel (apart from the man suspected to be Jesus). Brat reiterates several times her mistrust of adults, and describes them as something entirely different to them. The complete omission of what happened to their mother reinforces this idea. The only mention there is of a mother is that she ran off to be with someone else and abandoned them – it could be argued that Brat feels that if the adult who they would trust the most would abandon them, no one else is worth trusting. Jesus would appear as an almost mythical being separate from this, as the children would have been taught that He loves everyone no matter what – in this case appearing as a replacement for the motherly love they lack.

While Bell maintains this authorial voice through out the narrative, it did get a little grating at times. Brat seemed almost bored at points, and not entirely trusting of Jesus until she sees the holes in his feet. I liked how the novel had an ambiguous ending – towards the latter half of the novel the adults reveal that there is an escaped murderer on the loose, but the children never connect this to the man who appeared in their barn – again showing their unwavering trust and innocence. Bell decided to give the reader an open ending – to me reading as an adult, I would have argued that the stranger was indeed the convict. However if I had read this when I was younger, I would have probably missed this subtext and taken the children at their word that this man was Jesus. This is another representation of the children’s innocence – implying that this fades a little the older you get. Having Jesus come back would be seen as a modern day miracle, however older people would undoubtedly question why this stranger was claiming to be Jesus reincarnated. Due to this, I think that some of the magic of this novel would be lost on an older audience, and a younger audience would be happy to know that Jesus escaped at the end.

I wasn’t entirely happy with the poor aunt being dragged in to look after her brother’s children (hello sexism!) but unfortunately this is probably what would have happened at the time this was set, and especially in a farming community because apparently men don’t have equal parenting responsibility of the children they have fathered (don’t even get me started). The only real interaction the children have with their father is towards the end of the novel when the man has been discovered to be living in one of their barns – their father comes across as quite sad, and doesn’t reprimand the children from hiding this stranger. Overall I quite liked the naivety of the children, and I feel this added to the charm of the novel. However it wasn’t the type of novel that completely absorbed me as a reader, and I think this was probably due to a lack of depth in the characters – however if there had been more depth to them the main characters would have been less believable as children. I would give it a 3/5, as I don’t think Bell quite got the depth needed to explore the story in further detail.

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The book was adapted into a film not long after publication, starring Bell’s own daughter Hayley Bell as the oldest daughter. The film changed the children’s names to Cathy, Nan and Charles. Where as the book was effectively told from Nan’s point of view, the film switches to follow mainly Cathy’s perspective. At the start of the film we are introduced to the three children following the farm hand Eddie, who is trying to drown some kittens (again, as cruel as this is unfortunately this is what happens on farms because apparently they don’t know what taking an animal to be spayed means). The three children rescue the kittens and take them back to their barn to hide them. Cathy sneaks out later at night to find the mother cat, and takes her to her kittens. When she enters the barn, she notices a strange man collapsed in the hay. When she asks him who he is, he exclaims ‘Jesus Christ…’ before collapsing once again into the hay.

Prior to this, Charles says that Jesus will look after the kittens after being told this by a lady who he offered a kitten to. Cathy scoffs and says ‘How can He when He’s dead?’ The kittens are a symbol of the children’s innocence and their belief in God. Cathy as the eldest – and the closest child to becoming an adult after the death of their mother – is on the brink of loosing her innocence that comes with childhood. After their mother’s death, Cathy has had to step into the role of mother, and is inevitably becoming like those adults Brat described in the novel. Through Hayley Bell’s acting, even though this is the case Cathy shows a kind of terror of being discovered by God or Jesus to be blaspheming. Mainly due to Christianity being far more popular in this time period than it is today. While Cathy is on the brink of this turning point as a woman, she is not quite there yet – meaning this same innocence makes her take this stranger at his word and believe he is Jesus.

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The 1961 film has a much more serious tone than the book did – through the transference of media it also loses a lot of the ambiguity that the novel had. Due to the restrictions of the media of film, most of this ambiguity would be harder to portray. This is also through Alan Bates’ acting as the man, who comes across as a much harsher character. In the novel, the ambiguity as to whether this man was Jesus or not was shown through his characterisation. The novel Jesus was kind and thankful towards the children for helping him, and interacted with the children in a much more appropriate way that we would expect Jesus to. Alan Bates’ film version of Jesus is more suspicious, and openly questions why they are helping him and is often gruff at points – this interaction with the children casts a lot of suspicion over who this stranger is. In the novel it was easy to believe the stranger was Jesus – in the film, it is fairly obvious this man is the escaped murderer. Especially with the scenes of the man asking Cathy to retrieve a package, which the audience later finds out to be a gun. This loses the plausibility that he might be a good character instead of the escaped convict. It’s a shame this ambiguity is lost through this media translation, however it would be hard to convey without giving a straight forward answer of who the character was.

There was a far more religious aspect to the film than there was in the book – the children turn to their Sunday school teacher to ask her questions about what would happen if Jesus came back (without explicitly saying they think they have discovered Jesus in their barn). In the novel they just believe him to be Jesus and try and spend as much time as possible looking after him. There was more of an emphasis on the escaped convict aspect to the film as well – with these two elements I think this added the narrative depth that the book lacked. The lack of ambiguity as to the man’s identity gave the film a more concrete ending, though I think this meant the film lost the childish charm of the novel. It was a harsher portrayal of the story, and therefore aimed at a more mature audience.

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As an adaptation, the film worked really well. The loss of ambiguity changed the aimed audience, however it added the depth to the story that the novel was missing. The children’s willingness to believe this man was Jesus due to wanting a loving replacement of their mother comes across much more strongly – their father is quite aloof through out the whole film. While they do have their auntie stepping in to help – again, don’t even get me started on the sexist assumption that it automatically becomes her job just because she’s portrayed as a spinster – she isn’t exactly the most loving, charming of people. She constantly complains about having to look after her brother’s children (which I don’t blame her for!) and doesn’t really come across as someone they can confide in. I do think that there needed to be more of a reconciliation between Cathy and the father – he doesn’t recognise the children’s need for a loving parent figure and instead holds Cathy back when the man is marched from the barn.

Alan Barnes’ acting as the young Charles really made the film for me. He kept a lot of the narrative charm that the novel had, and had some of the funniest lines in the film. This helped to lighten the mood, considering the more serious atmosphere that the director had gone for. Charles’ kitten more obviously represented his innocence, as the kitten’s death proves towards the end of the film. Charles had also had an unwavering belief that this stranger was Jesus, however once he finds out the man didn’t look after his kitten and had actually let it die, Charles’ innocence and belief in the man disappears. In the novel, Poor Baby was one of the characters determined to help Jesus escape. In complete contrast to this, film Charles is the one to reveal to the adults that there is a strange man in their barn. Nan takes an extra piece of cake from the table, and when asked who it is for accidentally says ‘Jesus’ automatically, to which Charles sadly adds ‘He’s not Jesus, he’s just a fella’.

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The two media are essentially two different entities – while on the surface they tell the same story, they both do this in two different ways to the point where they are separate from one another.

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The musical adaptation is more of an amalgamation of both. Obviously I am going to be biased about this one! The version that we in Pembrokeshire are doing, is using songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version of the musical but rather than being set in America, is set in a Lancashire farm, just like the film was. The musical version takes some of the more mature elements of the film, while still keeping the naivety of the children that is shown in the book. Cathy once again shows a contempt for there being a higher being – almost in the manner of how can God or Jesus exist if they have taken my mother away from me? One of the lines from the song ‘I Never Get What I Pray For’ states: “God had no right to take her/ She had no right to go”. Despite her anger at this injustice, once she discovers the stranger in the barn and believes him to be Jesus, she still treats him as this higher being. If she had been wrong about Jesus existing, maybe she could be wrong about her mother being gone entirely – bringing a naive belief that Jesus gives her a connection to her dead mother.

The father is a more active presence in the musical, though still maintains a stern personality. The auntie is a much more approachable character, though still resentful of being made to look after her brother’s children (ARRRGGGGHH). The three children have more interaction with one another, which to me gives them more characterisation that they had in the book or the film. Nan is a goody two shoes: ‘Why’s he come back? Is it because of what you said Cathy? Do think he’ll want to see me in the morning? I expect so, I mean I didn’t say anything, did I?’ Charles has a similar characterisation to Alan Barnes’ film version. Some of his lines are so funny and really make his character. Cathy is trying to be like the mother Nan and Charles no longer have, and is quite bossy at times – mainly towards Charles, which gives his character an opportunity to use his hilarious dialogue.

Most of the musical stays similar to the film version with a more lighthearted atmosphere – the main difference is the ambiguous ending, which I feel adds more charm to the story. It gives you the impression that this stranger in the barn could very well be Jesus – younger audiences would take this away after watching it, where as an older audience would take away the subtext and understand that he was more likely to be the escaped convict, who has once again escaped justice. I like this ambiguity to the ending, as it leaves it up to the audience to decide for themselves what happened. I think this is a much more appealing way to end the story, as it allows the audience to retain this sense of innocence that would be lost if the musical had the film’s black and white ending (no pun intended). This also gives a sense that if you do what you believe is right, good will always triumph. After all, the only thing necessary for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing.

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Our version of ‘Whistle Down the Wind’ is on in Theatr Gwaun in Fishguard at 7pm on April 27th, 28th and 29th, with another matinee performance on the last day at 2pm. Tickets can be bought on the Theatr Gwaun website.

This was so fun to do, and I am so glad to have been confident enough to at least audition for something like the lead! Maybe I’m more of an adult than I thought!

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theatrgwaun.com/whistle-down-the-wind/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Whistle-Down-Wind-Alan-Bates/dp/B0001E5TL0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491165879&sr=8-1&keywords=Whistle+down+the+wind

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Digital-Music/Whistle-Down-Wind-Original-Stage-Cast/B001UWL4PM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1491165879&sr=8-2&keywords=Whistle+down+the+wind

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Whistle-Down-Wind-Mary-Bell/dp/0340688971/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1491165879&sr=8-6&keywords=Whistle+down+the+wind

The Future

The Future

So today is my last day in my current job. On Sunday I’ll be moving to Birmingham, to start my new job on Monday! I’ve been offered a job as an Editorial Assistant for a magazine called WhatsOn, and I literally cannot tell you how happy I am! Just a few weeks ago I was writing a blog post (which I didn’t put up in the end) about how hopeless it felt to be a graduate out of university who couldn’t get a job to do with my degree. Which I’m sure is a boat that loads of people find themselves in when they leave uni.

It just felt that every job I applied to couldn’t even be bothered to let me know if I’d even been rejected or not – every single one, despite saying it was for a graduate, wanted experience. How are you meant to get that experience if they won’t hire you? It was frustrating. When I left uni, I applied for loads of jobs, but never heard back from most of them. I eventually decided to move in with my then boyfriend and work as a carer. That went tits up pretty quickly – the relationship fell apart, and the job wasn’t the best. The actual care work didn’t bother me, but the ridiculous hours did. I would be up from half 6 and then out until 10 o’clock at night, with barely any break in between. You would get the odd twenty minutes off, but that wasn’t enough time to go back home and chill until your next call, so it ended up being wasted time. Then they wanted you to get up and do the same thing the next day. Basically, it was a sucky time. When the relationship broke down I moved back home, and started again.

Ultimately I think it was a good thing. This past year has been awesome, and made me feel so much more confident about myself. I joined a new archery club, and everyone was so friendly and welcoming despite being three times my age. Everyone made an effort to make me feel included! I joined a few musical things and met some awesome new people through those as well. I even finally had the confidence to audition for the lead part in a musical, which I got (blog post to follow!). I managed to get a job as an LSA in my old secondary school, which gave me the sense of place I’d been missing in Colwyn Bay. Being surrounded by familiar faces, as well as some friendly new ones, helped me pick myself up and feel so much better about everything. In that time I managed to write two novels, taking me a step closer to actually getting published! This past year has been awesome, and I wouldn’t have changed a bit of it.

Though at the start of February, it was time for a reality check. I couldn’t stay an LSA forever. During the past year a psychologist, Chintha, had been coming into school once every month to help staff think about their futures. Chintha told me that I needed to take myself out of my comfort zone and find a job to do with what I wanted to do. One of the first things she said to me was “Why wait? Why not now?” As awesome as the past year has been, I was well and truly in my comfort zone. And then at the start of March I had an email inviting me to come for an interview in Birmingham. At the end of the following week I’d been offered the job! This is so exciting – I still can’t believe it’s happening. I’m actually going to have a job to do with my degree! Plus it’ll give me the insight I need into getting myself published, as well as the experience I’ll need in the future to hopefully be an editor!

It’s terrifying to move somewhere completely new – but I’m so excited for the opportunities this is going to give me as well. Bring it on!

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‘Heir of Fire’ Review

‘Heir of Fire’ Review

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I hoped this would be better than its previous novel, and in some ways it was. Maas has now shied away from solely telling Celaena’s story, and has instead gone for a multiple point of view, Game of Thrones style narrative. After the disappointment that came from the last novel, it was a bit of a relief. Maas had taken Celaena’s storyline in a completely different direction to where I thought she was going to take it, and at first I was unsure of what to make of it. It grew on me in the end, but the attempt to make Celaena appear vulnerable fell flat to me – instead Maas seemed to paint her as a bit of a wet lettuce, which was very frustrating. Eventually this dropped from the narrative THANK GOD and Celaena returned to the strong character I had loved so much in the first novel.

One narrative arc I loved in this novel was Manon the Blackbeak witch and her wyvern Abraxos. It was such a cute storyline, and at times I found it way more entertaining than the overall plot. Though my only problem with it was I wasn’t entirely sure why it was in this novel – I get that it was to show part of what the King of Adarlan had been up to over the years before these events, but it wasn’t really clear as to how her narrative fit in with all of the other characters. She was still one of my favourite things about this novel, though.

I liked the romance between Sorscha and Dorian, but this felt glaringly like it was put in to stop readers thinking that Dorian and Celaena might get back together in future novels. It ruined it a bit, as well as the repeated statements in Chaol and Celaena’s chapters that they weren’t ever going to get back together. Did this really add to the overall narrative? No. Was there a need for this repitition? No. There was no real need for this until the two characters meet again, which Maas made pretty obvious won’t be any time soon.

Chaol and Dorian’s sections of the narrative felt like the more plot fuelled aspect of the novel. This was clearly more set up for further novels, but actually felt like it was going somewhere – and it really exploded at the crux of the narrative arc. In some ways I was pleasantly surprised by this, after the sedate nature of the previous novel, and while it had a sad ending to it Maas left plenty more interesting plot points for the next novel. Despite the disappointment I felt when reading ‘Crown of Midnight’, this plot twist reeeally made me want to find out what happens next.

I would give it a 4/5 as it was a definite step up from the previous novel, where as Celaena’s chapters did feel like they were once again dragging. However Maas rescued it with her later chapters, as well as the other characters’ storylines. I’m curious to see what Maas has in store for her characters, but wasn’t expecting the direction she’s taken her narrative in.

 

http://sarahjmaas.com/

@SJMaas

 

‘Crown of Midnight’ Review

‘Crown of Midnight’ Review

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‘Throne of Glass’ gave me such high expectations for this novel, that I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. Celaena as a character completely made the first novel in this series for me, so I couldn’t help but feel disappointed with the direction that Maas took for her in this novel.

The fact that Celaena didn’t assassinate a single one of the people she had been assigned to murder didn’t sit right with me – the last novel had set her up as this deadly killer who was unmatched by anyone. So the fact that she wouldn’t follow orders didn’t feel right with her character. I had gotten the impression that she was meant to be ruthless – yet she suddenly couldn’t bring herself to do as she was asked? That felt like a step backwards from the previous novel. Maas had tried to set her up as this deadly killer – I doubt she would have suddenly been given a complete character change. This just felt like Maas had changed her mind about making her protagonist an assassin, and wanted to give her a way out of this darker side to her character. The only time in the entire novel we see Celaena actually stick with her former assigned personality as a lethal killer was when she broke into the rebel warehouse to rescue Chaol!

The rest of the novel seemed to be just bumbling along as a set up for further novels – as if Maas went “Ooo people like my idea, how can I drag this out for as long as possible?” There were parts that I enjoyed, but not as much as in the previous novel. For one thing, Maas started to lean away from having Celaena as the sole protagonist. Instead we started to see chapters from Chaol and Dorian’s point of view, which was interesting but was a blatant set up for further story lines. As a result, it felt like Maas didn’t do this novel justice. The feeling that it was all one massive set up for more novels was really grating – especially because these particular plot threads she introduced weren’t fully explained!! I really wanted to know what the King of Adarlan had been doing over the years that was so horrible, and how he had gone about it all. However we were given the bare minimum, and none of this was really explained.

The progress of Nehemia and Celaena’s friendship was heartbreaking, but again made me feel even sadder for Celaena’s character. Maas takes so many steps backwards in this novel when it comes to Celaena’s characterisation!! And after how much I loved her in the first novel, this was so frustrating. I get the reason for it, as its trying to set up Celaena breaking away from the King’s rule, as was the not following orders, but it felt so disappointing when we’d seen her as such a strong character in the first novel. It made Celaena seem like a wet lettuce.

I loved the plot twist with Archer, and Celaena getting more involved with the darker aspects of her character towards the end, but it still felt disappointing next to the rest of the novel. I loved the romance between Chaol and Celaena – I much preferred them as a pairing than Celaena and Dorian, but again I don’t think Maas did the storyline justice. All of a sudden the two characters realise their love for each other, then just as they get together they’re torn apart. So frustrating!! Then Maas goes to lengths to show how they’ll never end up together and blah blah blah – just as she does with Celaena and Dorian, with several Dorian point of view chapters watching Celaena and repeatedly mentioning him moving on.

I enjoyed the novel more towards the end, and want to find out what happens next – but I couldn’t help but feel disappointed with this sequel. I would give it a 3/5, and I hope the next one is better.

 

 

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