Friday, January 5, 2018

Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

I didn't post any status updates for this - stealth review!!!

When you're as busy as I am, you want to have a book on you at all times. At any given moment, I have one to two books in my purse, even if I'm just going to the hair salon. You never know when you might be kept waiting! WONDROUS STRANGE was my most recent book purse and I finished it in just two days.

I was a bit hesitant about starting this book. It came out in 2009, at the start of the post-TWILIGHT YA paranormal craze, except it's about faeries instead of vampires. These trends are cyclical and right now, faeries are popular again because you-know-who wrote you-know-what, and I honestly don't get it, because I'd take vampires over faeries any day -

But then, I figured it out.

Faeries are basically the Kardashians of the paranormal universe. They're beautiful and they have nice clothes and they command attention - but what do they do? Yes, we know that they're magical - but what do they do - apart from being larger-than-life and slightly supernatural and getting into petty squabbles for no apparent reason? We don't know. The glamor lies in the glamor (or the glamour, if you're a faerie), and from there, it just becomes a cyclical argument consisting of self-hype and pixie dust. Vampires are like the counter-culture version of vampires (so, like, I dunno what that would be in terms of pop-culture... punk rock? Grunge?); there's the whole blood thing, for start, and then there's the fact that they're dead and tied to the occult. Faeries are like the squeaky-clean version of vampires: immortal and powerful without that whole "gross and dead and bloody" thing.

Anyway, getting back to the book, the main character is a girl named Kelley who is involved with the Avalon theater company in New York. Due to a fluke, she was promoted from understudy to Queen Titania (this is called foreshadowing) in the play, A Midsummer Night's Dream. Then one day, she meets a weirdo in a park and ends up rescuing a kelpie from a pool in Central Park, and that ends up pulling her into the supernatural world of the faerie.

The Samhain gate to Faerie lies in Central Park, and the time when it opens is drawing close. The faeries are pulling their usual games of intrigue, but this time it's more malicious than usual: one of them is planning on starting up the tradition of The Wild Hunt - a ruthless band of faerie hunters who kill and raze until enough blood is spilled to satisfy them. And this time, they'll want difficult prey.

Obviously, since this is a YA paranormal book, the heroine is not all that she seems, has a secret past, blah blah blah, etc. Likewise, the hero is not all that he seems, is instantly attracted to the heroine, must betray his nature to be with her, blah blah blah, etc. By the end of the book, they are already saying "I love you" (actually, it's I love thee, which makes it extra pretentious). Because of course.

I'm not sure if I would have liked this as much if I was reading it at home, surrounded by my (infinite) array of options, but as a captive audience trapped in the middle of a very slow bus with nothing better to do, it was okay. The writing is actually very gorgeous, and I loved the way the author incorporated faerie mythology into the storyline, and interwove theater into it. Especially since I recently read another YA book about theater called ECHO AFTER ECHO, which left me wanting more.

The beginning of this book is much better than the end, however. In the beginning, I was getting total Labyrinth vibes, and this is important, because Labyrinth is the yardstick by which I judge all books about faeries and goblins. The lame insta-love and lame love interest cost this book an entire star, though. I hated Sonny. For a semi-immortal, he was incredibly immature and lame. There are boys at middle school dances with more maturity than Sonny.

All complaints aside, I liked it enough to buy the sequel (this book and the sequel are $1.99 ea. on Kindle right now), so I suppose I can't really complain. It kind of reminded me of Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series, except with a less swoon-worthy hero and fewer intrigue/action scenes.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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