Dearest by Alethea Kontis
Book Three of the Woodcutter Sisters series
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 3, 2015
Rating: 2 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads):
“A fabulous fairy-tale mashup that deserves hordes of avid readers. Absolutely delectable.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review of award-winning series debut Enchanted
Readers met the Woodcutter sisters (named after the days of the week) in Enchanted and Hero. In this delightful third book, Alethea Kontis weaves together some fine-feathered fairy tales to focus on Friday Woodcutter, the kind and loving seamstress. When Friday stumbles upon seven sleeping brothers in her sister Sunday’s palace, she takes one look at Tristan and knows he’s her future. But the brothers are cursed to be swans by day. Can Friday’s unique magic somehow break the spell?
What I Liked:
Well, this one was slightly disappointing. I wanted to like this book more, but it wasn't happening. I liked Enchanted well enough, but never read Hero. I don't think my not reading Hero had anything to do with my low rating of this book.
Friday is a kind and sweet soul, with the ability to feel what others feel. By chance, Friday finds seven brothers who are cursed - they turn into swans during the day. Friday can help break the curse - but will that be enough? A threat approaches the kingdom, and everything is suddenly connected (the swans, the curse, the impending doom).
I actually really liked Friday - I could identify with her. She loves everyone, and doesn't necessary care if everyone loves her (though they do). She's selfless and kind, but she's not spineless.
I really really liked Tristan - he is sweet as well, and protective and considerate and charming. For a swan boy, he's pretty great. I liked him, and his brothers.
The seven brothers (who are princes of the Green Isles) are probably my favorite part of this book. The seven of them together are HILARIOUS. Rene and Bernard, the twins, are especially great, but Philippe has his moody, dark charm. Christian is intelligent and rational, Sebestien is lovestruck, Francois is stern, Tristan is... swoony. But together, the brothers are a riot. I loved their dialogue together.
The story revolves around Friday and the brothers' one sister, Elisa, trying to break the curse. But then Mordant, the villain, and his sorceress Gana (get it?) arrive. Gana is the one who murdered children, Mordant the one who destroyed the Green Isles (the brothers and sister's home). Their arrival is bad news for the brothers and Elisa, but also bad for Arriland.
Overall, there were things that I liked about this book (like the two protagonists), but there were some aspects of this book that were seriously lacking. Notice I haven't mentioned anything about the romance.
What I Did Not Like:
Urgh. One thing that niggles me about these books is the implausibility of the stories. Like, I get it. It's fantasy, fairy tale retellings, la la la. The thing is, Kontis leaves so much up to Fate or just because or without explanation. I know this is super vague, but it's also super annoying.
For example, Friday and Tristan are just FATED for each other? They take one look at each other and just KNOW? Literally, that is what happens, and that's the explanation. Not good enough for me.
When Tristan transforms from swan to man, and he gets stuck in-between. That just HAPPENED, didn't it? No explanation, no reason why he was the only brother to get "stuck". I don't understand. Why is that the case?
I just feel like too much of the story is left up to chance. Too many things happen coincidentally, or just because. It's like Kontis didn't feel like explaining things, or having explanations ready, or whatever. That doesn't work for me. Even if the explanation was something like, "because the Prophecy said so" (there is no prophecy in this book, but the use of one would have worked), or something like that, I would have been a little more content.
Also, the romance. Love at first sight, or whatever. Basically, INSTALOVE. I wasn't a fan, I wasn't buying it. I love Friday and Tristan, and I love them together, but there wasn't enough "together" for me to believe that they had a solid relationship. I didn't believe in their love, though I so wanted that for them.
So this book gets two stars.
Would I Recommend It:
Naahhh, I wouldn't really recommend this series in general. I noticed similar dislikes in Enchanted, and I didn't like them, so obviously Kontis is doing that on purpose. However, I wasn't amused, and wasn't buying it.
2 stars. I need more depth to these books, especially since they are fantasy. I feel like Kontis is missing an entire layer or two in the books of this series, and I NEED THOSE LAYERS.
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