Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series Name: Hanna Duology
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Strange Chemistry, Angry Robot Books
Source: ARC from Netgalley
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Pre-Order on THE BOOK DEPOSITORY
All Hanna Euli wants is to become a proper witch – but unfortunately, she’s stuck as an apprentice to a grumpy fisherman. When their boat gets caught up in a mysterious storm and blown wildly off course, Hanna finds herself further away from home than she’s ever been before.
As she tries to get back, she learns there may be more to her apprentice master than she realized, especially when a mysterious, beautiful, and very non-human boy begins following her through the ocean, claiming that he needs Hanna’s help.
I do admit that there are times I do judge a book by its cover. I am easily attracted to vibrant, well-drawn or well-edited layouts, and if one caught my eye, you sure can bet that it also caught my full attention, and I am more likely to check it out rather than walk pass it. That’s pretty much what happened between me and The Wizard’s Promise in a nutshell. I mean, dude. DUDE. Look at that beauty. It totally gives off that Magical Fantasy aura, and not to mention, the ocean-like colors give it such a cool feel. Even though I didn’t like The Assassin’s Curse, a series of books that Cassandra Clarke has also authored, I requested and hoped that the content was as good as the cover.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t smooth sailing, this book and I (get it? SAILING? … okay you probably don’t get the pun, but more than half of this book was spent in a ship wandering the seas sooo… yeah…). Forget the fact that it’s set in the same universe as The Assassin’s Curse (which I threw in the DNF pile 15% in; sorry, Ananna, but you just tick me the heck off), it just left me feeling… empty and void, like I just consumed something that seemed terribly pointless. It’s not a bad book per se; I reckon loyal fans of the author’s writing would likely find it enjoyable. I, unfortunately, found it annoying and a wee bit boring.
And I am saying that mildly.
What’s it about?
Hanna is a fisherwoman-in-training, her mentor being Kolur, a well-known fisherman. While she toils left and right to catch swimming creatures, what she really wants is to be a Witch, especially since she has a strong affinity with the Wind. She can summon and command it to do her bidding, a feat proven useful when sailing the high seas. She, however keeps this tidbit to herself.
One day, she was summoned by her Master to go fishing, which usually lasts for 2-5 days. What was supposed to be a simply fishing trip drastically changed when bones of fortune-telling were thrown and a magical force whisked them off -course, and the next thing Hanna knew she was a long ways from home. Another Witch, one who had a strong affinity with BOTH the wind and the sea , soon joined them, off to join her Master do an “errand” he decided on a whim, to lands beyond her wildest imagination.
That is, if the creatures of the Mists don’t get to them first…
Dun dun duuuun…
Well?! How was it?
Dull. Amazingly dull.
Is this surprising? It sure was to me. For such a wonderful cover that pretty much skyrocketed my expectations, I had thought there to be some action, some adventure, heck, maybe some plot. But what I got was a book about a snarky and rude teenager (who kept on throwing sarcasm at her Master and another dude who didn’t really deserve it rawr) riding the seas for more than 50% of the book. It wouldn’t have been so bad if the plot kept on going, but our long, arduous voyage aboard the Penelope was just full of her repetitive thoughts and action. She’d fix the sails, look at the sea, sleep in the cabin, call on the wind, glare at her Cap’n, throw a snarky comment, gaze at the sea again, fix the sails, call on the wind, sleep in the cabin, rinse repeat wash with Mr. Clean ten times over.
IT. WAS. SO. EXHAUSTING.
Of course, some may argue that there were some “events” that transpired in the book. Like, come on, they got whisked away by something! Something got on their deck! They got washed ashore somewhere! I acknowledge all those, but honestly, these were just little details (and I guess Hanna had to do something else aside from fixing the sails) and the overall “plot” was just useless, in my very humble opinion. It pretty much just comprised of her being convinced to do something 95% of the book, and her agreeing to do it at the very end.
It’s not that it was bad, it’s just that half of the book felt so meaningless, like, is-this-part-even-necessary meaningless. It didn’t feel like there were any direction at all. Not to mention, so much of the book were about Hanna’s actions. I mean, I love her internal narration that talked about HER (and I mean the REAL her), every time the book decided to insert some. She may have come across initially as an entitled nitwit who thought the world revolved around her but I eventually grew to like her and even understood her frustrations. But the overall goal of this book could have been met halfway, if not for the unnecessary step-by-step description of the characters’ doings. So, yes, forgive me for saying it, but if those exhausting repetition were cut off, I’m pretty sure we could have inserted more plot here aside from her finally agreeing to something she vehemently didn’t want to do for, um, pretty much the majority of the book.
I do like the world-building, so there’s that. It’s an interesting world where magic comes naturally and is part of nature. I liked how even though magic is rampant, it’s not something that’s easily abused to gain an advantage over others. I also liked how it’s used for simple tasks: calling the wind to sail to a particular direction, summoning a bit of fire to warm the people on a chilly day, casting preservation charms on freshly-caught fish or protection charms to shield you from harmful external forces. I liked it a lot. It’s just too bad some annoying factors greatly overshadowed this aspect.
Well, it was a disappointing read. I probably should’ve expected it, given I wasn’t impressed with The Assassin’s Curse, but I was really hoping and praying to the high heavens that this experience would be different. Unfortunately, the writing, pacing, and “plot” of this book left me feeling empty and bored out of my mind, to the point that it felt like it was raining inside my head. I’m not certain whether or not I’ll read the next book, but I probably will just to see if the plot will actually emerge now. At this point, however, I’m not feeling confident about it.
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