September 5, 2020

Mortal Heart: A Rambling Review

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

This has been the first book that I've become absorbed in since the pandemic hit, really. I've been in a reading slump of some variety, where nothing grabbed my attention enough to distract me from the news. While I did think Mortal Heart was a bit drawn out towards the end, and the introspective musings of Annith a tad repetitive, otherwise I was heartily glad to be whisked along on Annith's journey, as she discovers how to stand up for herself and those she loves. 

Of all three protagonists in the series, I think I found Annith to be the most relatable. She is not as assertive as Ismae or as wild as Sybella; rather, she is someone used to following the rules and not making waves. She has honed it as a defense mechanism, but as the walls of her cage tighten around her, she realizes she must break free of them before it's too late. That is what sets her off on an adventure that involves a very swoon-worthy (if a tad on the "emo" side) love interest, a reconnection with her old friends Ismae and Sybella, and a whole lot of secrets being revealed. (Which, I pretty much guessed at -- or they at least crossed my mind as possibilities -- way before they were revealed.) 

I did find the political plot line here rather boring, and the focus is far more on Annith's personal journey in terms of self-discovery and character development than the war going on between France and Brittany. Nevertheless, it does all come to a head eventually, and the resolution is not one I would have guessed. I do wonder if the Duchess will live to regret the decision she made...

Also, I remain confused about some questions of world-building. Spoilers, highlight to read: Are the hellequin already dead? I spent most of the book thinking they were -- and were stuck in the hunt as some sort of 'purgatory' before they earned their way to the afterlife -- but then a bunch of them actually died at the end, so... *blinks* 

Overall, I think my favourite in the trilogy remains the first, Grave Mercy, both for the introduction to the world and for the dynamic between Ismae and Duval. But this one is a close second, and probably had the protagonist I was most able to connect with.

4 shooting stars.

September 3, 2020

Mr. Rochester: A Rambling Review

Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker

I enjoyed this glimpse into Rochester's mindset and retelling of the classic from his perspective. We get a lot of backstory that makes his character more sympathetic, while not feeling out of place with what Charlotte Bronte gave her readers in the original. I do think that the first part of the story, detailing his childhood and young adulthood (before he meets Jane Eyre) was more interesting (if slow-moving), since we are already familiar with what happens once he and Jane cross paths. Perhaps because of this, the author doesn't go into that much detail about their interactions, which left their romance and Rochester's emotional development feeling like it lacked something; I didn't connect with it the same way I connected with the original.

While Sarah Shoemaker sticks quite closely to Bronte's story, there is one subplot that is new. I don't think it clashes with the original, although in the end I'm not sure how much it adds (spoilers, highlight to read: the storyline involving Gerald Rochester... in the end he dies along with Bertha, and all of his scheming comes to nothing). I do like, however, that it provides more explanation for events in the original story that were not accounted for (spoilers: it makes sense that Rowland might have taken advantage of Bertha and then refused to marry her, and that Edward would have been offered up to marry her instead).

For those people who don't understand the appeal of Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, I would highly recommend you pick this book up! And for those who love him already, you will probably enjoy getting to spend some time with this character during his most formative years.

4 shooting stars.

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