Thursday, March 28, 2019

Book Review: The River Witch by Helena Rookwood

Goodreads Summary: The Kingdom of Faerie has been sleeping for centuries, through the ages of iron and metal and glass. But now technology has failed, the digital world is over and, finally, something has disturbed the fae from slumber…
Or should I say, someone?

Tabitha didn’t mean to start it all. She didn’t know what it was that she interrupted when she stumbled across the ritual in the woods. But that night everyone felt something shift when she unleashed a force so powerful that it echoed across worlds…

Now the little folk have begun wreaking havoc, something old and terrible has woken up in the river, and a mysterious thief has come looking for Tabitha.

Forced to leave her village in search of the fabled Iron City, home to the only humans who still have any memory of the fae, Tabitha’s only guide to this strange new world is A Compendium of Faerie, a book of fairytales left to her by her mother.

Will a simple book of stories be enough to defend Tabitha against this new world of magic?

The River Witch is the first in a new fairytale-inspired fantasy series set in post-technology Britain.

Goodreads Ratings: 3.69 stars with about 200 ratings
Genre Listing: Fantasy, Paranormal, Fae, Fairies, Young Adult
Goodreads Challenge: 8/50
2019 Reading Challenge: #3 - A book under 300 pages (Find the full challenge here.)

Book Review:

Hello, readers! I hope everyone who is participating in the 2019 challenge with Tress and I are having fun. I'll be doing a recap of what I've read eventually. Right now, I don't feel like I've read enough to do one. I'm happy that I got the under 300-page book off my list. For some reason, I'm on the struggle bus with this first tier. I usually jump around quite a bit, but I'm trying to actually go level by level this time.
I'll be honest, I had a tough time getting into the River Witch by Helena Rookwood. Even though it was only around 250 pages, I feel like it took me a while to read. Really until I got about 50% of the way through I could just read a couple of pages in one sitting before needing to put it down. I liked the premise, but I couldn't really get interested in the characters or the setting.
There was so much at the beginning that I wanted to know more about, but the book just sort of glazed over. How did the digital age end, was the world as populated in Tabitha's present as it was in the digital age? What (if any) technologies still were used? What was the purpose of the dance in the woods? Was it to protect the town and hold back the fae? How did one find out about it? What was the scope of Odine's powers, if she had them? These are things that I think more detail would have kept me interested in the story.

Beyond all of the questions that I had regarding the details, I think the biggest factor for it taking me so long is that Tabitha just comes across as whiny. I don't know that she ever really grew on me as a character. Aside from fishing, she just came across as being really dependent on Odine, the Sprites, and Lysander.

I think I liked Lysander a bit more than Tabitha, or at least I liked his story more. I didn't necessarily feel like either of them had much of a personality, but his background was the more interesting of the two. I was mainly interested to know more about the Iron City, the fae, and the magic. I think the sprites probably had the most personality of any of the characters. I liked reading about them, the brook horse, and the kelpie. What kept me reading was wanting to know how the quest ended. I also really liked the hidden library in the abandoned University tower. Seriously. I want my own secret library. Doesn't every bookworm?

The book itself ended sort of abruptly, I felt. There wasn't any real ending. It's obviously a series, but I didn't really feel like it really led into the next book. By the end of the book, I think it was starting to feel like a chore to read it. If I stopped my review here, I'd be giving it two moons. This is not where the review ends though. At the end of the book, there's a link from the author to get the prequel book, The Hagstone for free. So, I downloaded it.

I didn't expect to finish the Hagstone right after downloading it. I certainly didn't expect to like it, given everything I just said about the River Witch. Imagine my surprise when I ended up loving the Hagstone. The prequel book follows Tabitha's mother, Maude, and gives a brief overview of her life. I think if The River Witch had been written like the Hagstone, I would have enjoyed it a lot more. It shed a lot of light on some of the background things that seemed to be missing from The River Witch, with a huge spoiler. I stayed up way too late reading it. I thought Maude was interesting and very clearly living a double life.  I enjoyed it so much that it's actually bumped the River Witch up to 3 moons for me.

The Hagstone is also going on my reading challenge list. It makes book 9 for Goodreads, and I'm putting it under a book you got for free on the challenge. So that leaves me with only 6 more for level one to complete. Yay! Oh, and if you're wondering if you should read The Hagstone before you read the River Witch, don't. Read the River Witch. Get familiar with Tabitha and what she's going through and then read The Hagstone. There are spoilery bits in The Hagstone.
So, 3 moons for The River Witch, 4 moons for The Hagstone. Side note, the cover for The River Witch is gorgeous!

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