Author: Carol Goodman
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fiction
Series: Blythewood, book one
Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
What do you guys think of when you think of fairies? Tinker Bell from Peter Pan? Merry, sparkling, tiny sprites with a more than healthy sense of mischief, a la Disney's Fantasia? How about the other kind? You know the ones I mean. The fairies of full size, beautiful, seductive, and more than a little bit scary? I think of all that and more. I love fairy stories, even now, at the ripe old age of 24. They never fail to enchant me, especially when I come across a telling of fairies that is unique.
Now, not since my Harry Potter days have I really read a boarding school book, and in reading Blythewood, I've forgotten how much I truly love them. Blythewood had elements of a lot of different books: Jane Eyre, Harry Potter, even the Diviners. But regardless, I really enjoyed it, because all of these familiar elements combined, made something new. (This book even has amazing feminist themes--yay!)
Ava Hall thinks, privately, that she may be going mad. Bells ring in her head at any sign of danger, and when she begins to see shadows possessing people, as well as handsome, beguiling men who have gigantic wings, she is whisked off to Blythewood, the school that her late mother loved--and ends up in a terrifying battle between good and evil. She must decide to turn her back on everything she has learned, or take her new skills and save her new life.
This book was lovely. The prose was beautiful, at times a little bit dense, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. And I really dug the way the author's feminist leanings showed throughout her writing, especially when you consider the time period in which the story is set. The pacing of it was breakneck, and when things really begin to roll, I couldn't put it down! I really enjoyed Ava; a girl who wants to fit in, who has powers far beyond her meager degree of control, but who finds the strength inside her to search for what is real and true.
The characters of this novel, Ava, Nathan, Helen, Daisy, and Sarah, in particular, were what really sold it for me, as well as the intrigue--I for the life of me couldn't figure out where anyone's loyalty lay, except for Ava. All of the characters were nuanced and exciting, almost real, and the fun spin on the angel/demon/fairy thing was really original. A fun, if a little heavy, start of a brand new series, Blythewood was nothing less than magical! The bottom line: Despite seemingly being made of different elements of familiar stories, all of these things come together to make something wholly original and enjoyable--an absolute delight! Next on deck: The O. Henry Prize Stories of 2015!