March 24, 2010

Day 3 - Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter

Today I'll be taking a brief look into the author of Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter, R.J. Anderson. First, I am pleased to announce the June 22, 2010 release of the second Faery Rebels book, Wayfarer. Here's a look at the cover.

You can pre-order a copy over at Amazon.com by clicking HERE.

Now - about our author. The following is from the bio on her official website (HERE):

R.J. (Rebecca) Anderson was born in Uganda, raised in Ontario, went to school in New Jersey, and has spent much of her life dreaming of other worlds entirely.

As a child she immersed herself in fairy tales, mythology, and the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and E. Nesbit; later she discovered more contemporary authors like Ursula LeGuin, Patricia A. McKillip and Robin McKinley, and learned to take as much pleasure from their language as the stories they told.

Now married and the mother of three young sons, Rebecca reads to her children the classic works of fantasy and science fiction that enlivened her own childhood, and tries to bring a similar sense of humor, adventure, and timeless wonder to the novels she writes for children and young adults.

Here is a list of links to interesting interviews of R.J. Anderson I found:


Thanks again for joining me here for the CSFF Blog Tour! I'll soon be posting non-tour related reviews for Graceling and its companion Fire, both by Kristin Cashore.

March 23, 2010

Day 2 - Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter

Welcome to the second day of the CSFF Blog Tour!  This month's book is Faery Rebels:  Spell Hunter by R.J. Anderson.  If you missed yesterday's post, you can catch up by clicking here.  Today I'll be giving my personal opinions about what made this book great and what could've been improved upon.

First, here's the cover of the UK version of Faery Rebels:  Spell Hunter, called simply Knife.


Let's begin with the cover of this book.  As I mentioned yesterday, I honestly may have passed this book by on the shelf simply due to its American cover.  The main colors are green and a bright purple/fuschia.  The font of the title just screams "princess story" - which is a huge miscommunication.  However, the artwork of Knife herself is stunning. 

In my opinion, a melding of the UK cover and the American cover would have better served the content within.  Perhaps, using the blues of the UK cover and the portrait of Knife from the American version.  For comparison's sake, here's the American cover again.


I would not have guessed that these are the same book.  Two different artists interpretations of a single story.  Honestly, I can say I would have definitely picked up the UK version first.  Now that I've gotten the cosmetics issue out of the way, I can move on to the substance.

Characters
    We're first introduced to a young faery, Bryony, who one day changes her name to Knife.  She is strong, independent, and a bit mischievious.  Her desire for knowledge and truth is the driving force behind the story.  She simply refuses to blindly obey rules that don't make sense or feel right to her.  Knife is the kind of character that must discover the truth on her own. 

    Disobeying the laws of the Oak's ruler, the Faery Queen, is initially seen as a huge risk of pure curiosity, but eventually leads to several truths that prove imperative to the survival of her people.  The message is clear:  Finding truth is worth the risk.  In this case, I completely agree.  Until Knife discovers the real history of the Oak's faeries, they have no hope of surviving the Silence.

    Several wonderful supporting characters enrich this tale including Wink, Knife's adoptive mother.  In a society that doesn't ever say "thank you" because of its implications, love isn't shown in the traditional human way.  In fact, the entire community has become one of trade and keeping score.  Not even information is given freely.  They barter for everything.  However, Wink brings a warmth to Knife's life that she doesn't recognize as love initially.

    Thorn is a gruff, tough faery who is the Queen's Hunter and has several lessons for Knife, not all of them pleasant.  Her intentions aren't clear until well into the story, but reveal several aspects of her true feelings that have been hidden from most of the faeries of the Oak.

    Finally, we have Paul, Valerian, Campion, and Queen Amaryllis.  Paul is a human boy who becomes central to Knife's struggles and joy, complicating her situation.  Valerian is the Oak's healer and a kind soul with a secret past.  Campion's faery occupation is that of the only librarian in the Oak.  Her willingness to help Knife proves vital.  Amaryllis' past is clouded by mystery, thus giving the reader plenty of doubt about her motivations and loyalty.  She appears to care dearly for her fellow faeries, but Knife uncovers secrets that could mean the Queen wasn't what she appeared to be.

    Overall, through the well-developed characters the story comes alive with possibilities.  Wink's caring, Thorn's influence, and the Queen's mystery all carry Knife along on her journey.  Paul shows Knife emotions that are foreign to her, but become more important than her own life.  Knife's strength and self-sacrifice draw the reader in and keep the pages turning.

    Setting


    The Oak is Knife's home and also a type of prison.  Faeries aren't allowed outside the confines of the tree itself unless it is their profession to be a Gatherer or the Queen's Hunter.  Knife longs to fly freely, but all faeries live in fear of predators, like Old Wormwood, the crow who has been terrorizing the Oakenwyld for years.

    The House is home to a family of humans and a constant source of Knife's curiosity.

    Story

    The pacing is excellent.  Readers are taken into the realm of the Oak, as faery society and its rules are revealed through Knife's interactions and experiences.  It's a natural unfolding of the inner workings of a decidedly non-human community.  We're taken on a journey with Knife that leads to an examination of human emotions from a fresh perspective.

    R.J. Anderson's writing is stylized and pleasing.  If I hadn't known she was Canadian, I may have mistaken her for a British author.  As a fan of British literature, I thoroughly enjoyed the rich prose and quirky terminology.

    One aspect I particularly appreciated is that although R.J. Anderson is a Christian, she never pushes her beliefs onto the reader.  She is an author who is a Christian, not solely a Christian Fiction author.  The distinction is fine, but Anderson's audience is sure to be broad and appreciate her stories regardless of their religion.  As a Christian though, I love that at the end she gives praise unabashedly to God.

    ***

    Thanks for tuning in today.  Tomorrow I'll be featuring R.J. Anderson herself.  With some fun information and interviews.

    And as always, please make sure to check out what other blogs on the CSFF Blog tour are saying about Faery Rebels:  Spell Hunter by clicking the links from Day One's post - HERE.

    March 22, 2010

    Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter

    Faery Rebels:  Spell Hunter
    by R.J. Anderson


    Important Links:
    Recommended Age:  10+

    Let me begin by stating that although the old adage about what not to judge a book by is ever-present in my mind, the cover is inescapably the first information one receives about a book.  If I had been in a book store, I may have just passed it by with the impression that it was a bit juvenile for my taste, and I would have been sadly mistaken...

    The story opens with a peek into the faery world of the Oak, and a particularly spirited faery named Bryony.  As the only youth in the Oak, Bryony feels a certain restlessness that fuels her first forbidden encounter with a human boy. 

    Years later, scared back into following the rules by a deadly sickness called the Silence that has been striking faeries for the last hundred years or so, Bryony is finally appointed to her faery profession.  Newfound freedom rekindles Bryony's passion for discovering the truth about the world, not only in the Oakenwyld, but beyond as well.  Through a series of excursions outside the Oak, Bryony encounters several natural dangers that creatures as small as faeries must face.  Against the faery queen's orders, Bryony, once again, gives in to her curiosity about the strange creatures in the House nearby - humans.

    It is her disregard for rules, passion for truth, and willingness to take risks that earns Bryony her new name:  Knife.  Along with her new name, Knife gains new understanding about her people's history, the terrible act called the Sundering that robbed all future generations of faeries of their creativity, and the Silence that has claimed yet another faery life. 

    In her quest for knowlege, Knife gains an unlikely friend and ally in Paul, the now-teenage human boy she had once encountered.  Through this friendship, we see the complexities of Knife's unique position evidence themselves.  She has several decisions to make, but will she choose duty over adventure?  And what of love?  Was her race ever able to love anyone other than themselves?  Through one faery's actions, the future of a race is decided.

    ***

    Tune in tomorrow for Day Two of the CSFF Blog Tour when I'll give my personal opinions on Faery Rebels:  Spell Hunter.  In the mean time, please check out what other tour participants have to say by clicking a link below.

    CSFF Blog Tour Participants:

    Amy Browning
    Melissa Carswell
    CSFF Blog Tour
    Stacey Dale
    D. G. D. Davidson
    Jeff Draper
    April Erwin
    Timothy Hicks
    Jason Isbell
    Becky Jesse
    Cris Jesse
    Jason Joyner
    Julie
    Carol Keen
    Krystine Kercher
    Dawn King
    Rebecca LuElla Miller
    New Authors Fellowship
    Nissa
    John W. Otte
    Donita K. Paul
    Crista Richey
    Chawna Schroeder
    Andrea Schultz
    James Somers
    Steve Trower
    Fred Warren
    Phyllis Wheeler
    KM Wilsher

    ***

    *In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a complimentary review copy of this title from HarperCollins Publishers.