Monday, April 11, 2016

#Review - The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace (Young Adult, Fantasy)

Series: The Keeper's Chronicles, # 1
Format: Hardcover, 417 pages
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Drama and danger abound in this fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected.

In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure.

The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.

With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything.

Author Becky Wallace's The Storyspinner is the first installment in a two-part duology called called The Keeper's Chronicles. The story actually features numerous narratives that flips through characters like Johanna Von Arlo, Prince Rafael Santiago Desilva, Keepers Jacare, Pira, and Leao. So, through the eyes of different characters, we see a a storyline developing that comes together in a battle for the survival of the last hope to keep the magical barriers separating the kingdoms from falling.

On one side, the Keepers are magically inclined humans who have access to the Five elements. As the leader of the group and High Captain of the Elite Guard, Jacare has been around for several hundred years and has seen almost everything. He gathers a group of like minded people together, including Pira, Leao, and Texugo to cross over the border and find the King's missing daughter who may be the key to saving the magical barrier.

On the other side is Johanna and her family who has lost everything after her father fell to his death performing. Their place within the Performer's guild is taken away. Johanna struggles to help feed her three brothers, and alcoholic mother. After an incidental meeting with Prince Rafael and his brother Dom, Jo finds herself working in his castle doing what she does best, performing and telling stories. But, nothing comes easy. There are hints that another war is just around the corner, and someone is killing girls who resemble Johanna.

I liked Johanna for the most part. There were things that I wished I could change about her, including her failure to allow anyone to help them without believing there would be sexual favors involved. I loved her devotion to her brothers Michael and Joshua, but really wanted to slug her mother for pretty much abandoning the family to their own vices. Johanna has more story to tell in the sequel called The Skylighter. Hopefully, she'll get over her lack of trust issues before the duology ends and leaves nobody standing.

The second character who gains the most attention from me is Rafael. Rafael has had to pick up a whole lot of slack since his own father suddenly died. Not unlike Johanna, he's had a whole lot of responsibilities laid on his soldiers as the apparent heir. Meeting Johanna throws everything out the window. Who is this girl who hunts on her own without fear? Who is this girl who tugs at emotions that nobody else has? 

One could say that the narratives from the Keepers was unnecessary to the story, or should have been cut down to one or two in particular. I will have to agree with that assessment. Jacare's barely scratches the surface, while Pira and Leao have their own stories to tell. Each has taken it upon themselves to find the missing princess before the enemies get to her first. Each makes unselfish sacrifices in hopes of saving the princess life from the maddening villains who are just drooling with anticipation on getting their hands on her.

After a rough start to the story, The Storyspinner ends on a cliffhanger ending. That is to be expected when there is a duology involved. You can't really expect all the answers to be handed to you on a silver platter, can you? There is a bit of romance thrown in for good measure, and I don't think I need to say who it's between. Alas, dear readers, the narrative switch actually works. Don't shy away from this book because of the number of narratives. It all makes sense in the end. 

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