Tuesday, July 29, 2014


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 rescued.


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.

To 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.


  1. Razor and Raven are the guests of honor at Shredder's dumb name party.

  2. So where would you put the protagonist on my (not really) patented Katniss-Bella Scale of YA heroines?

    Also, can Falon come to the party?

    1. I actually haven't read the Twilight books (nor watched the movies), so I can't comment with 100% accuracy, but based on context, I'd say Ava rates squarely on the Bella side of the scale, but not all the way. She's not entirely useless, there are times when she stands up for herself and shows her smarts and skill. But I'd say the ratio of "getting rescued" vs "doing stuff herself" is about 4:1.

      Falon is invited if he brings the beer.

    2. Steve, please read Twilight. So that I can read your review of it.

    3. I am torn about your lack of Twilight experience. On the one hand, I applaud your intelligence and sense in avoiding it. On the other, I agree with Karen that I would love to read your review of it.

      Also, um, this is kinda awkward? But, um, Falon is a girl? Wasn't that, um, totally obvious??? OMG.