This was a GOOD reading week. I mentioned last week on Friday that I had started reading Grace Draven’s Entreat Me.
Oh my Hades, you guys.
If you love Beauty and the Beast, and (even more) stories that re-imagine the tale, this book is definitely for you. Draven takes a familiar story and absolutely, 100% makes it her own, all while still managing to pay homage to the original. Here’s the blurb for the book:
“Afflicted by a centuries-old curse, a warlord slowly surrenders his humanity and descends toward madness. Ballard of Ketach Tor holds no hope of escaping his fate until his son returns home one day, accompanied by a woman of incomparable beauty. His family believes her arrival may herald Ballard’s salvation.
…until they confront her elder sister.
Determined to rescue her sibling from ruin, Louvaen Duenda pursues her to a decrepit castle and discovers a household imprisoned in time. Dark magic, threatening sorcerers, and a malevolent climbing rose with a thirst for blood won’t deter her, but a proud man disfigured by an undying hatred might. Louvaen must decide if loving him will ultimately save him or destroy him.
A tale of vengeance and devotion.”
Louvaen is one of my favorite heroines to date. Prickly, tough as hell, straightforward, and strong… yet incredibly sweet and generous to those who deserve it. She was immensely fun to read, and her devotion to her sister was very sweet. I have to confess to being frustrated with her and her staunch dedication to protecting her sister’s virtue — just as both the hero and her sister were. Draven did an excellent job of letting us see both sides of that situation, and it says a lot about her skill as a writer that we can easily empathize with both Louvaen’s desire to help her sister and her sister’s desire to be her own woman. Excellent.
And then there’s Ballard. Oh, man. Both monstrous and enticing, angry yet caring. When you first meet him, he’s described as monstrous, so deformed that even Louvaen’s sister can’t look at him. Yet, just as Louvaen comes to see his deformities as dear, so do we.
You can’t talk about this story without talking about the setting, and Ballard’s castle is both a warm home and a living nightmare. It all comes together in a story so full of romance, angst, loss, revenge, and love (both love for family and romantic love) that it is nearly impossible to put down. I read it in a day. 🙂
And then, not having had enough of Grace Draven’s work, I read her short story, The Lightning God’s Wife. You get a teensy bit of Silhara and Martise (from her excellent Master of Crows) but, more so, you get a peek at the mythology in that world, and the story is beautifully told. Highly recommended!
After that, I read a short story that Grace Draven (oh, let’s just make this the Grace Draven fangirl post, shall we?) recommended on her Facebook page, The Bone Knife, by Intisar Khanani — and I immediately ordered Khanani’s Thorn, which I hope to read next week. Here is the description:
“Rae knows how to look out for family. Born with a deformed foot, she feigns indifference to the pity and insults that come her way. Wary of all things beautiful, Rae instantly distrusts their latest visitor: an appallingly attractive faerie. Further, his presence imperils the secret her sister guards. But when the local townspeople show up demanding his blood, Rae must find a way to protect both her sister’s secret and their guest. Even if that means risking herself.”
This is a short story that feels so much bigger than its fifty-five pages would suggest. And Khanani’s writing is stunning. I cannot wait to delve into Thorn.
Finally, I was excited (see photo below — haha) to receive my copy of the Strong Female Protagonist book, which I supported via Kickstarter a while back. I have read it online, but it’s nice to have a paper copy in hand to leaf through. If you haven’t read it, it’s a really great webcomic by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag. You can (and should!) check it out here.
That’s it for this week! Have a recommendation for me? Tell me about it — PLEASE! 🙂