Ella is boring but beautiful. In her 30s, she works, has a circle of friends, talks with her parents regularly, and flosses. Her life is dull. But then one night, a mysterious man tells her she is something more. Soon she is swept up into a magical land where she faces both dangers and beauties she never thought possible.
This story started off intriguing. I liked that the main heroine was an adult, and well into adulthood. She has already lived a chunk of life so she has a frame of reference for right and wrong, bad and good situations. Once she meets Gada (who we learn very late in the book is called Eireden but you’re told this in the description of the book so I don’t feel bad mentioning it here), Ella’s world starts to unfurl. She has questions for her parents and she is saddened by the answers.
Then the two travel to the Feylands where Ella meets many fantastical beings. She befriends a little fairy who she calls Wipwip. Furan the dwarf is on a quest to find a very rare flower and Ella will do her best to help him. Later on she meets some elf warriors such as Aurok and Generi. There’s also evil beings (most of which are nameless) such as ogres, goblins, and seven evil horse riders. Overall, it had a very Tolkienesque feel to it. While this made it easy to slip into the story, it also made it predictable.
There are very few female characters. For the longest time, it is just Ella and of course every man adores her in some way. Some fuss is made about her virginity early on. Wipwip is female, but not treated as such. Generi is also female, and a warrior scout. I very much liked her character… until she ended up in a love triangle. That was a bit cliched. There’s a few more but largely, only Ella is plot important and she spends most of her time being carried by one male character or another from scene to scene. She does eventually step up a bit and has to do a little slaying, but it is putting down those nameless, evil beings that are already laying out on the ground.
The romance is strong in this story but it also felt predictable. At first, I thought it was sweet. Ella finally has some stirrings for a man and he seems like a worthy catch. But then it becomes this long, drawn out affair. Eventually we get that love triangle, and then a quadrangle, which I felt was just too many angles without any satisfaction. I suppose it was to be dramatic and perhaps tragic, but I yawned through much of the romance. In the beginning, the romance added to the plot, then it became a distraction from the plot, and sadly, it finally became the plot.
Gada/Eireden is our tragic hero. Perhaps half way through the book, we learn that ‘Gada’ is not his name but rather a caste designation. Eireden did something in the past that greatly dishonored himself so he was demoted by society to the lowest of lows, the Gada. Much was made about honor and this lowest caste and I just couldn’t get into it. The whole thing seemed overdone, over dramatic to me.
We keep being told that there is this horrible evil lead by a powerful demon. However, there are only a few fight scenes. There isn’t much military planning or coordinating going on. Essentially, we have this massive horde of nameless evil for the good guys to slaughter… and we got to spend time on Ella’s love life or Gada’s irked pride. I wanted to know more about this powerful demon and his motivations. I wanted bad guys with names and personal vendettas. Basically, I wanted more depth to what I had hoped would be the central plot of the story.
I really wanted to get into this book. It’s narrated by a personal favorite narrator, I listened to the audio clip and liked it, and I read other reviews and liked what I saw. I typically quite enjoy epic fantasy. I went into this novel fully expecting to be entertained. Sadly, this book was not the book for me.
I received a copy of this audiobook from the narrator at no cost in exchange for an honest review.
Narration: Fred Wolinsky did a great job with this cast of characters. His voice for Ella was quite believable and he had a nice, firm, strong voice for Eireden. I liked that he employed several accents for the various types of beings. His accent for Furan was great and his child-like voice for the little fairy Wipwip was spot on.