Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fairytale Apocalypse by Jacqueline Patricks

The Basics:
Fairytale Apocalypse by Jacqueline Patricks
Crazy Bird Publishing
Book One of The Verge
Fantasy, New Adult, Kind of Science Fiction?
Published September 22, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Amazon Kobo

Why I picked up this book:

The cover is terrible, but I couldn't resist the title. I was on a bit of a fairy tale request binge at the time....


Two worlds bound by magic...
Three people joined by destiny...

Lord Kagan Donmall rules the Verge, the border that protects the magical Fae Inlands from the mundane mortal world. Recently, the Verge has been failing and he suspects the source of magic is fading. His prayers to Danu have gone unanswered, until now. 

The young mortal, Lauren Montgomery, hears the message of Danu and eagerly agrees to be the Lady of the Verge, for she desires more than a mundane life.

But Lauren’s twin sister, Tessa-ever her sister’s protector, challenges the decision. The Verge falls, and the Fae and mortal worlds suffer a double apocalypse. 

Now Kagan, Lauren, and Tessa must survive in this new, hostile world and discover a way to repair that which has been destroyed while navigating the bonds of duty, love, and vengeance.

My thoughts:

Fairytale Apocalypse didn't have to live up to high expectations. The cover didn't inspire a lot of faith in me, and that may have worked to the book's advantage.

I really had to trust that the book was going to take me somewhere that I wanted to go. It starts off as pure fantasy, with the idea of this magical Verge that's failing and issues around magic and the Fae. Then we flip over to the mortal realm, where twin sixteen-year-olds are preparing for their birthday party. When one of them slips between worlds, the other follows to rescue her.

I was on board for all of this. Then things get messy and suddenly we're thrust into an apocalyptic future in the mortal realm, a place that's very Mad Max in flavour.

The book did eventually take me to that happy reader place, but it was a rocky road. I think there's some great ideas - the apocalypse, the melding of fantasy and science fiction - but there are some other elements, mainly relating to the development of the characters, that felt rushed and a bit flimsy at times.

It was a revelation for me to love-hate Lauren, the twin sister that I thought of simply as a waste of space. She was completely unsympathetic, totally self-absorbed and shrugged off nearly every opportunity to think of anyone other than herself. Just when you thought maybe an event was going to make her grow up, force her to realize there were more important things in the world than jewels and pretty clothes and her own comfort... no. No, she couldn't be bothered. I loved the opportunity to really root against Lauren - and frankly, a lot of bad stuff happens to her. 

Now, having said that, I think that some of that bad stuff should probably have left more of a psychological impression on her. Some very bad stuff is virtually glossed over, and I think it would have added some depth to the book if we'd seen Lauren undergo more subtle transformations because of it.

I did like Lauren's twin sister Tessa, though I wanted to be more engaged with her than I was. She's so focused on Lauren and protecting Lauren who so clearly doesn't want to be protected (well, most of the time...), that it was hard not to get frustrated with Tessa. I could only understand her connection to Lauren as an extension of their twinliness - at some point, I really felt that Tessa should acknowledge Lauren's selfishness and put the needs of others ahead of Lauren. If Tessa had read as having more complex needs and goals, I think this book might have pushed over from fun to read right into enthralling. 

Kagan, as the Lord of the Verge - a Fae with a delightfully well-conveyed and conceived past - was different enough from the mortals to be believable as 'other' - as Fae. I often find that books suffer for making their supernatural characters simply human-plus - usually plus gorgeous and extra powerful. Kagan's got some impulses that don't jive with the normal human spectrum and that made his Fae-ness easier for me to understand and get on board with.

Now, there was a huge dropped thread in this book that really drove me crazy. There's a villain introduced at the beginning of the book, and then forgotten about until the epilogue. It just didn't do enough to wrap those early chapters into the mix for me, and while I believe that future books in the series will make better use of said villain, I think it was a wasted effort to introduce him in this book. I do think that all the potential of the Fae world was also squandered - perhaps a sub-plot involving said villain's actions while Kagan was running about the mortal plane would have addressed both of these problems for me? Granted, word count would become an issue. 

Bottom line:

It was a complete surprise to me that I enjoyed this book as much as I did. Fairytale Apocalypse has its flaws, but there are also some really unique components, and overall it was fun enough for me to look beyond some of the issues I had with it.

4 stars
For fans of post-apocalyptic worlds mixed with magic, slow romances, really selfish and unredeemed characters

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