Jean, 39, lover of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, reader of comic books, conqueror of genre fiction.
I received this book as part of a GoodReads first reads giveaway.
With the first two books the Woodcutter Sisters series, Alethea Kontis proved to me that she was one of the most inventive and talented YA writers out there. with the third book, Dearest, she, in my mind, cements this reputation. Dearest focuses on Friday Woodcutter (Friday's child is loving and giving) and, taking place concurrently with Hero, deals with the fallout to the kingdom of Arilland from Saturday's impromptu ocean (summoned in that second book) as well as incorporating fairy tales like The Wild Swans (which I recognized as The Three Ravens from Jim Henson's The Storyteller) and The Goose Girl, as well as elements from Swan Lake and even a little bit of Rapunzel, into the larger, intriguing world of the Woodcutters.
I adored Enchanted, and only sort of really liked Hero; the former gave me the wonderful thrill you get when reading a favorite book for the first time, while the latter suffered, for me, from using fairy tale tropes more prominently than any recognizable tales themselves. Though I did find that Dearest strengthened my appreciation of Hero, giving the other half of the story and dealing with the consequences of that book.
I love Friday. I always appreciate an author who wants to write kind, giving and happy heroes, and does it well; antiheroes are all well and good, but they're a dime a dozen these days. It's actually a refreshing pleasure to read the angst and drama coming not from the character but the situations they're placed in. As is always of note to me, strong familial relationships as well as female friendships abound, and while I didn't find every one of Rampion's brothers distinctive (I got extremely confused, now and then, trying to put a personality to a name, though it's done better than it is in other books where it's necessary to have a large group of characters.
I liked the exploration of the world, beyond just the incorporated fairy tales; there was some solid world building especially concerning religion. As with the other two books, the love story is beautiful: old-fashioned in that fairy tale sort of way, swooning and fate-filled; the book is unabashed in its ideas of destiny and romance. While not quite as interesting to me as Rumbold or Peregrine, Tristan makes a good romantic lead I could easily feel giddy over, especially once he, cough, gets his wings. It was also fun to see the characters from Enchanted involved again, Sunday and Rumbold, Velius and the other Woodcutters. (Please, please tell me, Ms. Kontis, that we'll get a story where Velius is a lead. Pretty please?)
Beautifully written, with rich prose than manages to be descriptive and colorful without being purple, and witty, snappy lines that made me laugh out loud, I loved the book and it only lost half a star because it couldn't compete with that passionate feeling that Enchanted gave me the first time I read it. A wonderful sequel. Now, when will we get novels about the other four Woodcutter sisters, hmm?