The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace
Series: The Keepers' Chronicles #1
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published on: March 3 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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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.
Honestly, I was a bit disappointed by this one. And not b/c I went into it with preconceived notions or expectations. Believe me, I’ve learned to not expect too much from new YA fantasy from new authors.
No, my disappointment in The Storyspinner is a strange and complex thing, but it mostly boils down to what could have been.
First of all, let me say that I think most YA fantasy lovers will absolutely adore this book. The heroine and her male counterpart are both easy-to-like characters. The plot is interesting. The villain is hatefully villainous. Wrongs must be righted, people protected, rightful heir restored—all of the things that make a really great fantasy, all executed reasonably well.
However . . . there were just enough glimpses of greatness, brilliant details in the world-building, and keen insights into human behavior, that I felt I knew what Wallace was capable of, and, sadly, for the majority of the book, I felt she did not deliver.
Randomly, in a nothing scene, we meet the master of the fishermans’ guild. His name is Tolapia (HA!), and he’s identifiable as Guildmaster b/c of the three golden fishhooks in his left ear.
Oh, how I love specificity.
BUT. For every wonderfully imaginative detail, there are three woefully average details.
Like this book’s band of gypsies, who in other stories have been called a myriad variations of Tinkers, Wanderers, Traveling People, etc., who here are simply . . . Performers.
*frowns and squints*
And the magic-negating metal the Keepers discover in use on the other side of the Wall: beryllium.
Technically that’s four, although in fairness, “Keepers” isn’t quite as drab as the others.
As for beryllium . . . I’m not ashamed to admit that I actually googled “beryllium” in the hopes of finding some chemical property that would justify its seemingly random selection as a magic nullifier, but NOPE. Nothing. But it does bond well with copper, so there’s that.
After the glorious particulars of the former, all of the following ordinary details felt lazy.
It also felt lazy when: View Spoiler »The Keepers capture the assassin at the Performers’ Camp and he instantly gives himself up, AFTER demonstrating how easily he could turn the situation against them with a “my word against yours, and YOU are a stranger,” defense.
This guy . . . after his thwarted attempt to kill the Keepers: “Benton’s smile was too bright for someone being tied to a log. He turned his head and yelled, ‘Help me! Didsbury! James! They’re attacking me.'”
And the elder from the Performers’ camp clearly demonstrates her desire to dispute the claims laid against her clan member: “There must be some mistake,” and, “He thought you were a threat.”
But instead of professing his innocence, he mocks the woman, destroying any chance of his own survival: “‘Elma the All Powerful.’ Benton eyed the old woman with contempt. ‘Haven’t you seen all of this already?'”
It’s senseless, really. And lazy. Can’t forget lazy. « Hide Spoiler
Then there’s Leão and Pria whose romance-type thing seems to have been tossed in just for fun. B/c romance good. Less romance BAD.
And Pria herself is simultaneously my favorite and least favorite character. On the one hand she ridiculously kick-ass b/c:
“Everyone dances at Performers’ Camp. It would be rude not to.”
Rudeness had never really concerned Pira. If she didn’t want to do something, she didn’t do it.
“We die if we get caught.” Pira waded into the murk. “We might die this way too, but I’ll choose ‘might die’ over ‘will die.'”
But on the other hand, she’s equally as ridiculous in her jealous insecurity in regards to the previously mentioned romance-type thing, which makes a just-b/c romance even worse, b/c it ruined an otherwise perfectly good character.
However, my biggest problem was the unanswered questions.
It’s obvious that something terrible happened to #1 Keeper when the wall thing went down . . . or up, if you want to be technical about it (*snickers*). It’s obvious that Villain’s #2 was somehow involved. But was she the object or the instrument? No idea. And what was it that actually happened? Well, clearly I don’t know that either. But as indicated by the “obvious,” it’s alluded to numerous times, and each additional mention felt more and more like a taunt.
And that’s just one of many leftover questions.
Overall, The Storyspinner is the could-have-been-so-much-better first installment of the promising Keepers’ Chronicles series. Go into the reading of this one expecting to love it for what it is, instead of for its potential, and you should be fine. Recommended. Ish.
Was this review helpful to you? If so, please consider voting for it on Amazon or like it on Goodreads!
I’m very intrigued about this one and I’m glad that despite some of those very valid gripes you had with the story, you still liked it enough to give it 4 stars!
Pili recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #84!!
Just looking at the cover makes my eyes do funky things..I don’t like that..lol. To bad this wasn’t as good as it could have been I might wait on it.
Stormi recently posted…Book Review: The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
That is a strange background in the cover. Like she is going through a time warp or something.
Nathan ( recently posted…Gaslight Review: ‘The Buried Life’ by Carrie Patel
Darn, I was really hoping this would be a mind blowing read! At least it wasn’t a DNF though right?
Actually it sounds like this has a lot of potential. 😉
kindlemom1 recently posted…WoW Pick of the Week!
Sorry this wasn’t everything you would have liked it to be Jessica! I really enjoyed it, but I would have loved a few more answers by the end. It definitely was more of a halt in the action than any kind of conclusion, but I loved Johanna and Rafi (and their brothers, can’t forget their brothers!). Maybe the next book will realize all the potential you saw in this one:)
Sounds like this is one for the “maybe” pile. Sadly, my “must read” pile is so large, I may never get around to reading this. Perhaps I can be persuaded if reviews are positive for book 2. Great review.
E.J. Stevens recently posted…Paranormal Road Trip: Destination NYC with Susan Wright
Sorry the book let you down. Maybe her writing will improve with time. Was this a debut novel? I find with YA novels, like you, not to expect perfection. It can still be a good read, even with its drawbacks.
sherry fundin recently posted…Review ~ In The Woods by Nancy Gideon
Lol, it bonds well with copper…? Another uproarious review that surprisingly made me want to read this one. I love your love for specificity, and even if your affections are not returned in full by this, at least there’s a spark. Gotta inspect up close!
Ramona recently posted…Indie Ebooks
I have this one on my maybe list- I think I would enjoy it, though it is disappointing that the author didn’t manage to push it that last bit she’s clearly capable of. Definitely staying on my list, great review!
Ugh jealousy, laziness and unanswered questions… so much fun *sarcasm* Nope, I’m gonna pass on this one. Great review, Jessica!
Sarah recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #6 | The Unleashing
Oh I hate that feeling. That there just could have been more, could have been better
blodeuedd recently posted…The truble with demons / Bewitched and betrayed – Lisa Shearin
I’d like to see how it progresses as the series does to see if it can take care of these problems. Sometimes the first one isn’t always the best one. Still, sounds good enough for a lazy day and you just want some brain candy. 🙂
Melissa (Books and Things) recently posted…Review and Giveaway: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Man, you just skinned this book alive! Still a 3.5 paw rating is generous considering the flaws.
I’ve seen a lot of praise for this book so it makes me a little surprised to see you didn’t love it as much. I can totally see why this would be so disappointing though and now I am a little confused about whether I would really love this one. I can still see myself really enjoying this one but it’s always so sad when you see a book with so much potential that is not fully realized.
I am sorry this wasn’t as enjoyable for you, hon 🙁
Lovely review, though <3
Rashika recently posted…ARC Review: Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop
Sorry to hear that it disappointed in the end. Tolapia , hahaha. This was on my maybe list and I think I’ll pass. Thanks for the review, Jessica.
Uhm okay. I think I’ll pass. Not really prone to self-inflicted headaches.
Joy // Joyousreads recently posted…: Once Upon a Rose by Laura Florand
It’s never fun when you KNOW the author could be better. I don’t really read a lot of fantasy, so this doesn’t sound quite right for me regardless.
ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books from the Past 3 Years
Oh dear… I think I’ll give this one a miss. I really do not like inconsistencies like the ones you described, they drive me crazy! Great review Jessica! :]
Sad to hear it sounds like it had so much potential that wasn’t tapped
Brandi Breathes Books recently posted…Review: Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark
I like the potential you mentioned in your review, it’s gonna be just a matter of how bother I get with the inconsistence. It wouldn’t be the first time I have manged to overlook them when the characters and the world in general are amazing. I guess will have to see.
Thank you Jessica.
Lupdilup recently posted…Vision in Silver Audiobook by Anne Bishop (review + giveaway)
I think I will wait to read reviews for second book before deciding if to read this one or not.
Thank you for the honest review.
BookaholicCat recently posted…CATS-ilicious Thursdays
Ooooh. I’ve had one of those could’ve been better books myself. I really thought this is going to be AH-MAY-ZING since everybody has been buzzing about it. But you’re right, it’s time to stop with the expectations. I’m glad that you like it though. I’m still not sure if I’ll try this one out. Thanks for the review, Jessica! 🙂
Paula M recently posted…SHORT REVIEWS: Painless, You Own Me, Soul Crossed a.k.a painful, no thanks, stressville
Yikes. I don’t think this one is for me. I’m not a huge fan of fantasy anyway so most of what you mentioned would bother me.
oh..And I was so looking forward to this book, Jessica! Fab review. I think unanswered questions will drive me bonkers too 🙂
kara-karina recently posted…Audiobook Fantasy YA Review: The Decoy Princess by Dawn Cook
Well, the word that comes to mind for this story is ‘uneven’. I’m sorry it didn’t live up to your expectations, Jessica. It’s a shame really, because like you said, it has a lot of potential. I like that you said we should go into expecting to love it for what it is rather than what it could be. Thanks for an awesome review!
Bookworm Brandee recently posted…My TBR List ~ March ~ What Should I Read Next?