In an effort to record every book I read this year, I think I'm going to review... Every single one. So here's the first book, partially read in 2008, completed in 2009.
Since the dawn of time, the Faerie have taken. . . . For seventeen-year-old actress Kelley Winslow, faeries are just something from childhood stories. Then she meets Sonny Flannery, whose steel-gray eyes mask an equally steely determination to protect her. Sonny guards the Samhain Gate, which connects the mortal realm with the Faerie's enchanted, dangerous Otherworld. Usually kept shut by order of icy King Auberon, the Gate stands open but once a year. This year, as the time approaches when the Samhain Gate will swing wide and nightmarish Fae will fight their way into an unsuspecting human world, something different is happening . . . something wondrous and strange. And Kelley's eyes are opening not just to the Faerie that surround her but to the heritage that awaits her. Now Kelley must navigate deadly Faerie treachery—and her growing feelings for Sonny—in this dazzling page-turner filled with luminous romance. Wondrous Strange is a richly layered tale of love between faerie and mortal, betrayal between kings and queens, and magic . . . between author and reader.
^^Product description from Amazon.com.
Lesley Livingston is a first-time novelist, and the first thing I'm going to say is that you can tell this while you're reading. I'm not saying this to knock first-timers at all, and doesn't take away from her ability--but technically, this book isn't going to dazzle you. If a "book snob", this won't be one for you.
Faeries--or "fairies"--are the new vampires. At least, that's what the publishing world is trying to get across. (Good luck with that. I think they're hoping that Stephenie Meyer isn't going to revisit her Twilight saga.) This book is one of three fairy-oriented novels I picked up on a whim, and to be honest, it's probably my least favorite. The summary above doesn't really explain that much, but suffice to say that Kelley is a young actress living on her own, about to play the part of Titania in Midsummer Night's Dream. Her heritage is going to be questioned when she meets Sonny, and it doesn't take you long to figure out who she is. (Even though it takes Sonny, Expert on Faeries, most of the book to guess what we already know.)
Kelley's characterization annoyed me... Simply because she seemed kind of stupid. She seemed to win by sheer luck. (Luckily, the actress playing Titania became injured. Luckily, a siren saved her from drowning. Luckily, her friend isn't going to freak out about the horse in their bathtub.) The horse in the bathtub is even named Lucky. More specifically, he's a kelpie. The fact that a horse followed Kelley home, sat itself in her bathtub, and just began blowing bubbles seemed to belong to a children's book, rather than YA. Do you honestly think that I'm going to buy that? I know it's fantasy, but it's urban fantasy. Human rules have to apply somewhere.
Sonny, I liked. He was a little too good to be true, but I liked the concept of human children being stolen and trained to become the Janus, guards of the Otherworld. (I don't know whether this is rooted in lore or not, but it reminded me of the janissaries, Christian boys taken to become soldiers for the Ottoman empire.) Sonny's coolness, however, drained when he became all lovestruck over Kelley, otherwise known as "Firecracker" or "my heart". I think that one of the reasons Kelley bothered me was because the book was written in the third person, and we saw her from Sonny's POV as well as her own. She just sounded too good to be true. It seemed like one minute they were bickering, and the next they were falling in love.
The book did have its good parts, though. I liked the characters of Auberon and Mabh--especially Mabh. I want to know more about her. Tyff was interesting enough, as was "Bob". The story was one of those that was entertaining, but sort of plotted weakly. However, I do think that Lesley Livingston has potential, and, as WS was clearly set up for a sequel, I think I'll read it. This was a fun enough read, if not great.
Borrow from the library, but don't spend your money on Wondrous Strange.
Rating: Three out of five stars.
Page Count: 327