Monday, July 22, 2013

Christina Read: Of Silver and Beasts by Trisha Wolfe

Release Date: April 19, 2013
Published by: Trisha Wolfe
Recommended by: Siiri (Little Pieces of Imagination)

Christina Reads Your Recommendations is a regular Monday feature here (inspired by A Reader of Fictions' Sadie Hawkins Sunday) in which you, my readers, get to choose what book I will read and review next. Got a book that you love and want everyone to read and review? That you're not sure what to think of and want a second opinion on? That you think I'll love or that I should have already read? Send in your recommendations via this form!
Of Silver and Beasts by Trisha Wolfe

In the sand-covered queendom of Cavan, the goddess once saved a young Kaliope’s life, preventing the mercury her father attempted to hide in her blood from reaching her heart. Now, a cybernetic clamp filters it, but the silver streaks swirling faintly beneath her skin are a constant reminder that she’s different.

When nineteen-year-old Kaliope is chosen as head of the Nactue Guard, she becomes the sworn protector to her empress. In the midst of an invasion on a neighboring land, Kaliope is placed in charge of guarding Prince Caben, the last heir to his kingdom. But when they’re attacked by the feared Otherworlders, Caben and Kaliope are abducted and taken below to a realm where they must fight for their life in a caged arena. 

Kaliope struggles to protect her princely charge, keeping him and herself alive while battling inhumanly opponents, and trying to save the stolen, sacred relic that will restore her empress’s life force and all of Cavan. And if she can somehow awaken the goddess within her, she may save what’s most important.

New Adult Dark Fantasy: Intended for readers 17 years of age and older.

Sadly, this one was a DNF. I'm sorry, Siiri.

So, I was really excited by the idea of a NA Dark Fantasy - regular viewers of this blog will know from previous posts that I want NA to expand beyond what it currently is. However, I found that I could not get into Of Silver and Beasts due to the info-dumps and my lack of connection to the characters.

In the first chapter:

-we learn about the protector advancement ceremony being in one hour (inciting incident-yay!)

-we are told of the marketplace, dinnels, mercury plants and the necessity of mercury, the Three Realms, goddesses, cybernetics, Empress Iana and the deities of Nalbis (same as goddesses?), her father being in a mental ward, mercury-tainted blood, glowing silver eyes, the Nactue Guard, the tech shop, anti-gravity Cury-crafts, Counciler Herna, Perinya, Otherworlders, the Cavan Army, mutated bottom-dwellers, Taggar, dolls without a cover flap (making Kal think of her own cybernetics instrument implanted in her skin--is she a cyborg?), the goddess Alyah, her mother's medication, not wanting to get married and have kids / a very matriarchal society and attitude from the narrator, Emily as a caretaker because Kal's dad is a jerk (and because there's the trope of the heroine needing to take care of her helpless mother), the goddess Farrah, metal detectors before entering the palace court...

-we are introduced to two strong female characters, Willa and Lilly, Kal's friends, also protectors and a couple. This immediately made me happy, but then, later in the chapter, the two of them tell Kal that she needs to get a man because she's about to devote her life to her work and they haven't seen her happy in a while. So I guess you need to be with someone to be happy? To some extent, Kal protests to her friends' suggestions, but it seemed half-hearted.

-Kal narrates on a memory of nearly killing her father because of his abusive behavior toward her mother / a memory of the mercury in her blood boiling over? Being dangerous? Crushing his skull to make him crazy? I'm still not certain what the effect was, or why it was mentioned then and there, or why that happened. Is Kal stronger than usual? Maybe I'd find out later, I think, as I read on...

I'm all for details in world-building, but with that many in just the first chapter (which is 4% of the Kindle ebook, aka ~11 pages of a 265 page book), I'm not experiencing the world; it feels more like a list of points is being ticked off. I'm not going to be able to follow along with all the images being given to me, especially when it's a high fantasy world and I need to be eased in first. Furthermore, the plot suffered in those beginning chapters, probably because a lot of that information needed to be eliminated or incorporated better. For instance, Kal basically tells us that she'll become a member of the Nactue Guard, yet the announcement of her assignment doesn't come until the end of the second chapter. Why should I keep reading to that point when the intrigue and mystery of the protector advancement ceremony have been taken away? In the first four chapters, there are two plot points: Kal being named the leader of the Nactue Guard, and Kal getting into a fight with the former leader whose motivations are sketchy. So why does it take four chapters for that little to happen? They are somewhat short chapters, but I wasn't getting the feeling that things were *actually* happening. Maybe that's because I just wasn't connected to Kal or any of the other characters.

I didn't DNF after that first chapter, but much of what I found fault with in the first chapter continued in the next ones. More info dumping on the world, and more inner monologue from our narrator, Kal, about her character and life, info dumps of their own. I could not connect to Kal nor the other characters, so I found it hard to care for the world, no matter how detailed I was told it was.

This style of writing ultimately was not for me. However, maybe you should look at Siiri's glowing 4.5 star review of this book before deciding whether or not the book is for you, given that the difference in opinion may be a matter of personal taste. Siiri, I'm going to have to coax another recommendation from you! :)

Up NextThe Thief by Megan Whalen Turner.


  1. Ooh seems like this one does a whole lot of telling when it should be doing a lot more showing. I DNFed Wolfe's Destiny's Fire when I tried to read it about a year ago, I don't think her writing is for me. Hope you have better luck with your next read!

  2. Too bad to hear you did not like it, it sounded really interesting from the summary.

  3. I agree that it was hard to get into at first, that's the reason I gave it 4.5 not 5. However, as I read further, I formed a connection with Kal and the world kept getting darker and darker and it didn't help that Caben--the Prince Kal has to protect in the arena of monsters--was so so so swoon-worthy.. oh boy :D I agree 100% that the world is complicated and so detailed that it does get confusing. I had the same detail problem with Iron King hence I didn't enjoy the first book THAT much. But the series as a whole is one of my favorites. I hope you have better luck with your next read:) AND, I'm crafting that draft asap:) Heh. Oh, and thanks for the shout-out as well:)

  4. Thanks, Jenni! It did a lot of telling in the beginning. Other readers did say it got better as the book progressed, but I wasn't in the right mood to continue reading, I think. Sounds like Wolfe's style didn't work for either of us!

  5. Awww, you make me wish that I'd gotten around to knowing Caben more. Swoon-worthy princes are definitely the best. It's been a while since I read Iron King, but I think you must in general have more patience than me. The beginning pages are so crucial for me, my motivation, and my later perception.

    Yay!!! Can't wait. Have to go reply to your tweets & DM. And of course. Many and multiple shout-outs to you!!


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