avid audiobook listener, sociopath, nerd.
It's pretty typical fluff. Zoe is an interesting character, and this was a pleasant enough listen. It made good background listening at work because I didn't have to fully pay attention to understand the story. The narration was great.
I'm going to say the "bad" first - why does the narrator pronounce the name "Zoe" - the main character - as ZO? It's Zo-ee and always has been, whether it's spelled Zoe or Zoey. Hearing Zo Zo Zo throughout the book is really frustrating.
That said, the narrator does a great job, I enjoyed listening to this very much.
In pursuit of truth, justice, and an end to spoilers!
Sharon Shinn is a lovely writer, and I’ve been fond of Jennifer Van Dyck’s narrations since I first heard her read. Buying this book was an easy decision!
The world-building was excellent, and I especially liked the magical elements. Each person has a special affiliation to a magical element, as well as three magical “random blessing” tokens given at birth. It gave a unique flavor to a storyline where several strong families have a lot of political pull along with the king. Fans of the author might see this as a nod to the Twelve Houses series taken in an entirely new direction.
The first half of the book had a lot of traveling around, learning all there is to learn about a new place, and then moving along and starting over. I find that can get dull, so I was glad when Zoe finally found her real place in the story about midway through and the plot picked up. The move from vagabond to high court was a big plus.
There’s a strong young adult feeling to this storyline even though Zoe is one of the few young adults. It’s not so much the characters themselves, but more the way big life changes and magical powers occasionally bloom forth and are accepted by everyone. There are a lot of nice, gentle people who look out for one another. Horrible things are more likely to happen in faraway places. Magic can save the day.
The book ends very solidly, but it looks like a follow-up book has just been published. Ah, now all that world-building makes more sense! But this could easily be read as a stand-alone book if you don’t want to commit to a series. I was very surprised to see one reviewer call this book a cliff-hanger. All the main conflicts get resolved, so don’t be worried if series aren’t your thing.
Overall this was a relaxing, easy listen, nicely written and well narrated. Not Shinn’s best, but a pleasing little fantasy story (once it got going), and I’ll be getting the follow-up book. But then, series are my thing. ;)
One - this book ends in almost a cliffhanger; there's no resolution.
Two - at the end, it gets suddenly a little creepy and a little dark, and needs a trigger warning.*
Three - from the author's website, it looks like it's book one in a series. Book 2 is due out in hard cover sometime next month.
With all of that out of the way, I loved this world. I loved the protagonist, I loved that it's a fantasy world that's absolutely NOT elves and orcs. I appreciated the language and the plot twists, even though I called them fairly early.
adding some space for trigger warnings, which are also a lot spoiler:
*You'll probably catch on through the scenes with the visiting dignitaries that one of the king's daughters is being pawed at by members of a court described as "debauched". For a brief, sickening, awful few minutes, it seems that a Princess is being traded in marriage to a child molesting viceroy. I almost stopped listening. child trafficking, complicit family members, etc. I stopped reading game of thrones, because I don't need that stuff in my fiction, right? But the heroine literally jumps in and stops the proceedings, at the risk of her position at court, and the story is redeemed. Mostly. I still don't know that I feel the need to waft child rape and molestation through my otherwise enjoyable fantasy stories - "realism" aside.
No, takes a long time to get the the climax that leaves you hanging in the end. Understand it's a series but too many loose ends.
A by the numbers fantasy/romance, girl loses father, meets boy, runs away from boy, finds strange destiny, keeps getting thrown together with boy.... yada. It's perfectly satisfying if that's what your in the mood for.
Goopy romance is good! Shinn's Angelica series is about as goopy as it gets, so I loved it! Shinn can do non-goopy stuff, too -- her Twelve Houses series is more straightforward adventure, but equally well done. Troubled Waters can't seem to decide if it wants to be adventure or goopy... and ultimately falls a bit short on either side. Shinn fans will not be disappointed, but newcomers may be...
Not particularly recommended
Yes, I would. I loved the characters and the setting. I enjoyed the "world" she created and would love to see more set here. I'd listen again to revisit the people and place.
Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn books. Similar type world and magic structure, and similar storytelling style. Definitely aimed at a more female-type audience than Sanderson, though.
Not sure she brought anything special, but she didn't detract from the story, either.
No, but it was overally very enjoyable.
I would recommend this, but I would also let someone know that if they are looking for a larger storyline, they won't find it here. Perhaps it's my own fault, as I've been reading a lot of series lately, but I kept looking for something larger to push the story forward. It didn't lag, but I did wonder where it was going a time or two.
This book has a great plot...overall...but seams the little things were hard to follow....left alot of questions of why this and why that...could just be me...couldn't really place a face with the main characters....
This is really a weak attempt at fantasy fiction. The narrator was annoying as the protagonist and lacked emotion. I REALLY struggled to finish this and actually skipped through much of it and didn't feel lost picking up 30-40 minutes into the plot line.