Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

The Basics:
The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
Tor Books
Book One in the One Dozen Daughters series
Fantasy, Young/New Adult
Published August 5, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why I picked up this book:

I tend to like books published by Tor, I've got respect for Mercedes Lackey and I couldn't resist the Princess-in-disguise trope.


The rulers of tiny, impoverished Swansgaard have twelve daughters and one son. While the prince’s future is assured, his twelve sisters must find their own fortunes.

Disguising herself as Clarence, a sailor, Princess Clarice intends to work her way to the New World. When the crew rebels, Clarice/Clarence, an expert with rapier and dagger, sides with the handsome navigator, Dominick, and kills the cruel captain.

Dominick leads the now-outlawed crew in search of treasure in the secret pirate haven known as The House of Four Winds. They encounter the sorceress Shamal, who claims Dominick for her own—but Clarice has fallen hard for Dominick and won’t give him up without a fight.

Full of swashbuckling adventure, buoyant magic, and irrepressible charm, The House of the Four Winds is a lighthearted fantasy romp by a pair of bestselling writers.

My thoughts:

Wow! The House of the Four Winds delivered and then some! From cover to cover, I was engrossed in this tale of derring-do. The pedigree of these two authors pays off full force as we journey across the high seas with Princess Clarice, a young woman seeking adventure and finding far more than she desired.

I think this book straddles the line between young and new adult. The style of writing is very accessible, and I'd say the majority of the book is rather PG except for the treatment of a few sailors at the hands of the despicable captain referenced in the book blurb. I normally go in for slightly more adult styled stories but this one was very compelling. All of this leaned towards young adult, but I think the content of the story itself - the idea of Clarice entering adulthood and heading out into the world to seek her fortune and build her reputation as a swordmaster is very new adult fantasy. So... somewhere on the line between, probably slightly more YA than NA, for what it's worth.

I think the pirate/sailing theme must be a hot spot for me these days - something about it seems to captivate me right now. I loved all the nauticals details, particularly things like needing to lash Clarice's trunk to the wall as this is a detail that it made sense for Clarice to note.

There was one part where I shed a few tears - I don't know if it was necessary to go as far as the book did to make out Captain Sprunt as a 'very bad guy.' There are very few things that trip me up like this on the violence scale - I'm, perhaps quite sadly, rather inured to book violence, but this really caught me. And of course, now I've spent lots of time really thinking about sensations. For some reason, I'm fixated on the feeling of denim... (okay, yes, complete digression, but the next romance book I read that features a hot guy in denim is going to benefit!)

Anyways, the important thing here is that this book did get to me emotionally. I was rooting for Clarice the whole time, I didn't feel like there was anything in the book that was wasted. Everything came together, and I was satisfied by the conclusion (though really, slightly *more* on the romance front wouldn't have been, ah, disappointing).

The only thing that threw me off a little is that the book fairly clearly adapted our world with twists on the names of various locations, and a strong dash of magic. I wanted a clear "this = that" list somewhere so I could stop being distracted by it. And really, the magic was all pretty awesome. Very awesome. I'm definitely curious to know more about how it works (and it seems likely there'll be a good explanation in a future book as one of the sisters is particularly interested in it).

Bottom line:

I loved this book! The House of the Four Winds was so much fun to read that I feel positively greedy for more of Clarice and her adventures, as well as to read more about her sisters and their adventures. More more more! I will have to impatiently wait, I suppose. If I must.

5 stars
For fans of pirate adventures, sea-faring romances, women-disguised-as-men tales.

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