My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I loved this story! The characters are fascinating, the situations gripping, and the descriptions evocative
So, why only four stars?
Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I am going to show you a picture. Here is Queen Maeve Jacqueline Kelly Corrigan as a young girl, learning to ride her horse:
You will notice that both the girl and the horse are lying down. It might be better, for illustrative purposes, if the horse were standing up, but the girl actually has to lie down in order to illustrate the Maeve Jacqueline Kelly Corrigan School of Riding properly. Why? Because, in this book, every time Queen Maeve wants to get her horse going, she
digs her heels into its rump!
At this point, I think we need another picture. Here is a horse's rump
Now, Queen Maeve is described as tall and athletic, but still -- I think she would have to lie down on her horse in order to kick it in the rump while actually on its back. I got quite distracted thinking about this, because Queen Maeve rides a lot, and she kicks her horse in the rump absolutely every time she wants it to go anywhere! I kept wondering why she didn't kick her horse in the side, like Shasta with that uncooperative horse from Archenland, in The Horse and His Boy. Given her long legs, she could even have dug her heels into its belly -- but its rump? Really?
I was also a little taken aback by the über Irish names everyone has in Beldain. The people, as Marie Lu describes them, could be Irish or celtic, as far as their physical appearance goes. But culturally, they are a completely new invention -- very interesting, but not particularly Irish, at least not in my view. It seemed to me that the name of their country might have been meant to evoke the ancient festival of Beltane -- which had its dark side, but was basically a celebration of spring. What we see of Beldain seems quite different -- almost antithetical. It appears to be a very dark and cold kind of place -- maybe a Samhain sort of place.
I did enjoy the book, and I am eager to read the next one, in spite of my quibbles about horses and horsemanship.
I would say that for me, the book was a solid 4, maybe even a 4.5.
I don't want to give away any of the plot, but I will say that I found Adelina and her sister Violetta fascinating, and I am eager to find out more about what happens to them. I am hoping against hope for some kind of a good ending - maybe even a redemptive one.
I would recommend this book -- particularly to readers who like their fantasy dark.
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