Blythewood by Carol Goodman, 489 pages
In a story about a Harry
Potter-like school where girls learn archery and magic in an effort to
drive back the creatures of evil that spawn from the nearby woods, you
would think that the main character - a factory worker in an era where
women were mostly relegated to housewife roles - would fall into the
"strong female protagonist" category, right? Which is why it feels so...
backward... to have her be so pathetic. She spends most of the book
wallowing in self-pity (for almost no reason) and dreaming about how
great it would be to be rescued by a hunky guy. Seriously. While not
even in any present danger, our main character fantasizes about being
The story here's incredibly predictable. The author saves the "big reveal" for the final chapter, when it's been blatantly
obvious for 3/4 or more of the book. Honestly, if you changed the
character names around (in fact, please do... "Raven" is up there among
the cheesiest names I've facepalmed at) and some of the details, this
could pass for a well-written Harry Potter fanfiction, complete with
message about the power of love and how it conquers the darkness.
be fair, the Harry Potter books are a lot of fun, so there's certainly
worse things to mimic. And some of the imagery here - bells forged in
iron and blood, crows made of shadow that dissipate into ash, dark
figures with roiling smoke escaping their mouth - is actually really
cool. But the rest is so familiar, predictable, and (sometimes)
embarrassing, that I really can't recommend it, unless you really need
your hunky winged guy fix.