My rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased eBook
Publication Date: January, 2017
Publisher: W.R. Gingell
Point of View: 3rd Person
So it won't surprise any of you who have been around this blog for any length of time to find me reviewing yet ANOTHER W.R. Gingell book. Seriously, I think it's time I admit that I've become a Gingell-addict. But it's an addiction I don't plan to fight any time soon!
This book was actually three books in one volume, connected by various plot threads. So I'll do a mini review for each one, slightly different from my usual format.
TWELVE DAYS OF FAERIE
This first story in the trilogy immediately plunges the reader right into the middle of the delightful W.R. Gingell turn of phrase and humor that I've come to anticipate from any of her books. It's clever, with lots of twists and turns to the plot, and the Fae element is very . . . well, very Fae. Very classic fairy in the most frightening, dangerous, unnatural, beautiful sort of sense. I just love it.
The hero, King Markon, serves as a unique sort of unexpected hero, in that he thinks his son--who's in his early twenties--is the hero/love interest for the heroine. But he Markon isn't so old or over-the-hill as all that, and his sense of adventure and romance is as keen as any younger man's! He's quite sweet and quite heroic by turns, and I loved watching him fall head-over-heels for the much younger Anthea. And Anthea is everything I love in a Gingell heroine--quick, smart, and always two or three steps ahead of the rest of the cast. (Not only in the mystery, but also in matters of the heart!)
The story itself is done up like a Who Dunnit mystery, but with a magical twist. It's creepy and delightful all at the same time.
I'd give this book a solid 4.5 stars.
FIRE IN THE BLOOD
I wasn't sure I wanted to move on to this story immediately after Twelve Days of Faerie, because I was convinced I couldn't get as attached to these characters as I was to Markon and Anthea. But . . . I was wrong.
I absolutely LOVED Rafiq, the draconian hero if this tale! At first I wasn't sure I would bond to a dragon main character, but once he took on his human shape, he quickly won me over. This story is arranged as a series of magical tests that the hero and the prince to whom he's enslaved must solve on their mission to rescue a sleeping princess. Each test was unique and fascinating (and some downright hilarious!).
The heroine, Kako, was fantastic. Such a great foil for both Rafiq and his handsome-but-horrible master, Prince Akish. Another classically feisty Gingell-heroine, but she makes her own splash quite unique from Anthea or the others. She has plenty of secrets and demonstrates great heroism in the face of impossible odds (that ending!!!!). But I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll keep my mouth shut . . .
This story gave me STRONG Diana Wynne Jones vibes again! Anyone who knows me knows that's going to make for major points in my favor. Of the three stories in this trilogy, this one was my favorite, so I'm going to give it 5 stars all the way!
THE FIRST CHILL OF AUTUMN
This final story in the trilogy brings together some of the mysterious threads left hanging from the previous two stories--specifically those threads concerning the shards of a particular magical sword. It has a different mood from the others--more somber, perhaps more distant. The pacing is slower as well, though there is always an undercurrent of tension that keeps the reader turning pages.
Dion was a different sort of heroine for Gingell to write in that she's quieter, shyer, less sure of herself, and makes more outright mistakes. But this endeared her to me as well, because she was also strong, brave, and selfless. It just took a little more time for these qualities--though always present inside her--to come to the forefront. I liked watching her surmount her own limitations to be come the heroine needed to save the day at the end, and her quiet strength won me over.
However . . . I didn't much care for her major love interest in this book. I wanted to love him, but I just couldn't! I felt like he infantilized the heroine, which drove me nuts. I did love the surprise twist at the end concerning him . . . a twist which opened the door for the ending I was actually hoping for all along. So I give Gingell all the credit for pulling that off so deftly!
This was my least favorite of the three. Which isn't to say I disliked it! No, no, not at all. Even Gingell books that I like less than others are still superior reads, in my opinion! She's just got such a delightful imagination and such a uniquely fun way with words. So even when I'm not perfectly enthralled, I'm still ultimately pleased. And I'll give this book 4 stars as a result.
I need to take care and space out my Gingell reads, or I'm going to end up blasting through her entire library of works too quickly! Seriously, reader friends, if you are a fan of Diana Wynne Jones or Patricia C. Wrede, you really should give W.R. Gingell a shot. And this particular volume us, in my opinion, a GREAT place to start exploring her works.