Soul Fire Press (2011)
YA / Faeries / Fantasy
Ashlyn McVean doesn't believe in fairy tales. That is, until Ashlyn is thrown into the crosshairs of grudges her grandmother created long ago. After finding out she is one of two people able to cross between faerie realms, Ashlyn is faced with trying to understand her abilities, along with navigating a new relationship with her boyfriend, Liam. As if being on a centuries old hit list and dealing with crazed pixies isn't enough, her new abilities mean trouble for Liam. Knowing her new life puts everyone she loves in danger, Ashlyn must decide what's most important in her life between friends, family, love, and ultimately, realms.
I fear this might devolve into a rant, so I want to state upfront that Traitor has a lot of great ideas, particularly the way the faerie realm works and the whole plotline of Ashlyn’s grandmother. The plot is also pretty sold. The problem with Traitor is that the author integrates three of the things I hate most in YA (or any genre, really). The following three qualities were important parts of this book and made me cringe:
- Insta-love – Lead character Ashlyn falls into immediate and all-consuming love with Liam moments after she meets him. It’s a fated love written in the stars or something.
- Ashlyn is the best at all the things! – Our lead character doesn’t know anything about faeries or her family legacy. She sees herself as completely ordinary and unattractive, only to turn out to be the best at everything she tries.
- Just when the story feels like it’s hitting a climax, it stops. – I don’t mean this in the sense that there was a cliff hanger and I’m upset that it ended where it did. It felt more like we were finally hitting stride, about to reach the big battle that would cap off an interesting story, only for it to stop short before we got to the best part. It didn’t feel like the story had a natural conclusion, but rather stopped short right when things were getting started.
While not one of my key triggers, Traitor also features a normal human boy claiming to be the protector of a girl with superhuman strength. That’s a quality in a story that I have never understood, though in this case it followed along with insta-love. Basically Liam spends most of the book following Ashlyn around, warning her to stay out of trouble, then getting in the way when trouble found them when Ashlyn was actually the stronger of the pair.
But as I said in the beginning, I really liked a lot of Curd’s ideas, especially in her descriptions of the faerie realm and the people who reside there. I wish she had included more about how that realm functioned, where the rest of the faeries were and how the governing body developed. Though they weren’t featured very much, the other faeries introduced were more interesting than the human side character to me. The politics and the implied history could have been extensively explored, but perhaps Curd is waiting for the sequel to further fill out that portion of her world.
Overall the writing is good and the plotting is solid. On occasion I found that Curd glossed over the passing of time to the point it felt incongruous. One moment Ashlyn is starting her fight training, two paragraphs later she’s been training for hours and is now superwoman. The occasional statement by a character just didn’t make sense. POTENTIAL MINOR SPOILER: When Ashlyn is faced to fight back after the bad guys attacked her family and took her brother, her mother’s first reaction is “But you have school tomorrow!” Really? Really?!
Bridger feels like the middle version of a potentially awesome novel, which is the problem that seems to plague a lot of independently published and small press published books. Perhaps with more experience some of the qualities of Curd’s writing will become more polished. I’m looking forward to Traitor, the sequel that I will be promoting via Megan Curd’s blog tour on Monday. Hopefully some of the things that bothered me about Bridger will fall into the background and allow the ideas and characters that really show a lot of potential to flourish.
Blurb & book cover from Goodreads. I received a e-book copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.