“I am grateful for my father, who keeps me good and sweet. I am grateful for my mother, who keeps her own heart guarded and safe. I am grateful for my adviser, who keeps me protected. I am grateful for the Path, which keeps me pure. Ever after.”
Princess Aislynn has long dreamed about attending her Introduction Ball, about dancing with the handsome suitors her adviser has chosen for her, about meeting her true love and starting her happily ever after.
When the night of the ball finally arrives and Nerine Academy is awash with roses and royalty, Aislynn wants nothing more than to dance the night away, dutifully following the Path that has been laid out for her. She does not intend to stray.
But try as she might, Aislynn has never quite managed to control the magic that burns within her-magic brought on by wicked, terrible desires that threaten the Path she has vowed to take.
After all, it is wrong to want what you do not need. Isn’t it?
"The flowers farthest from the Path have the sharpest barbs."
Stray is the first novel in the Four Sisters series. Stray is set in a world where magic is a curse that only women bear and society is dictated by men and a strict doctrine called The Path. Stray from the path, and you end up being Redirected into becoming a Fairy Godmother. The synopsis does a fairly good job in hiding that fact from potential readers.
Stray features 16 year old Princess Aislynn of Nepeta who has been sent to Nerine Academy to learn how to walk the Path, and thus control her magic until she can be married off to a potential suitor. Aislynn's life is controlled entirely not only by the Path, but by others including the head mistress of the academy, her so called Adviser (Hull), and her very own fairy godmother (Tahlia).
Unfortunately for Aislynn, her magic is so powerful that sometimes it isn't so easily controlled. One misstep ends up with Aislynn being Redirected to becoming a Fairy Godmother where she meets Monarch Princess Linnea. Learning how to be submissive to someone else is a hard choice for Aislynn to make. Learning that she isn't exactly safe from being Redirected once again, makes her aware that her magic is nothing to be afraid, or scared of, and she should embrace is fully.
Aislynn is a very interesting character who I allowed myself to have strong emotions for. She is bullied because of her parents heritage which leads to having only one real friend. She really is a pawn in someone else's game, until she's not. She really doesn't have any independence since her comings and goings are controlled by others. She meets characters like Thackery, Brigid, and the Orphans who are fighting to keep free from the Wicked Queen Josetta and save others. Along the way, she uncovers dark secrets, and finds herself becoming more than just a spoiled Princess looking for a husband. I would dare say she becomes a beacon of hope for others.
If you are looking for romance, I will say that there is a hint of one, but it doesn't override or suppress Aislynn's growth from a timid puppet, to one hell of a magical user. Thackery is more or less a supporting character for Aislynn to lean on, and yes, even trust when she needs help the most. Is there any feelings between the two? Most certainly. It just hasn't been fully explored yet. Maybe in the future?
Stray is definitely a interesting story filled with twists, and surprises. The world building is enjoyable, and I find that I am eager to see what happens next to Aislynn. I want to know more about Thalia, Aislynn's fairy godmother who briefly appears, but lingers in the background with plenty of her own secrets that haven't been explained or answered. I want to know about the mirror, Josetta, and what happened to the the other Strays.
Author - Elissa Sussman
Title - Stray (Four Sisters # 1)
Publisher - Greenwillow
Released - October 7, 2014
Genre - Young Adult Fantasy
Format - E-Book 384 pages