‘’A river no more begins at its source than a story begins with the first page.’’
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield is a story that had the perfect plot potential to be amazing, but it didn’t deliver at all. As a huge fan of storytelling, this was a big disappointment for me, the biggest one so far in 2019.
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‘’There are stories that may be told aloud, and stories that must be told in whispers, and there are stories that are never told at all.’’
The story happens in a small city, on the river Thames. It features the pub Swan, where people gather every night, and everyone knows each other, and they all tell stories all night and enjoy their company.
If you have ever been to England, it is so easy to imagine the setting of a pub, warm place, crowded with people laughing and talking loudly, glasses clinking and people singing random songs in the background. A lot of positive noise and enchanting atmosphere.
And one night, the usual setting is being disturbed, when a man enters the pub with a little girl in his arms, and then passes away. The girl appears to not be breathing for a while, and everyone thinks she is dead, but suddenly, she is breathing again. And the man that is with her is not her father.
As the town is used to, they make stories of it. How it happened, who is the father, does she have a family, why was she drowning in the river… The plot entangles when the family is to be found of the little girl, but a few people claim she is their relative.
‘’Something happens and then something else happens and then all sorts of other things happen, expected and unexpected, unusual and ordinary.’’
The storytelling and the writing of the author was beautiful. At times. The beginning was a paradise for booklovers. The best first chapters I read this year. But after the plot opening, everything started going downhill.
It felt like being on this rollercoaster,excited, going slowly upwards, slowly reaching the top, ready to fall so fast, ready for an adventure, only for them to tell you that there is a fault, and you have to get back and exit the ride without even making the adventure out of it.
I wanted to love it. The writing at parts was great, and I am including a lot of quotes throughout the review, because I loved those parts. But the chapters and characters were too many, and things were happening too fast and without a purpose, that it was hard for me to pick up the pace. I had to leave the book and pick it up again, and it took me three months to complete it. A hard book to swallow and process.
Purchase links: Amazon 🌟 Barnes & Noble
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Random House UK, Transworld Publsihers for sending me an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Here I am people! I can hang out with the cool kids now that I’ve read the book. It felt like I was hiding in a cave until now, refusing to read Sarah J. Maas, thinking the hype is too forced. But to be honest, this book surprised me a lot. I enjoyed it with all my heart, and even though I wouldn’t cry and scream over it, I am very pleased that I read it, and I just can’t wait to read the rest of the series.
A Court of Thorns And Roses is a story about a young lady, Feyre, who is a huntress and goes out in the woods to hunt food. The more she hunts, the better her family can eat. And when one day she kills a wolf, she learns the hard way that killing a magical creature has its price…
She is imprisoned in an enchanted court and she is free to walk around, but not allowed to escape. The creature that captures her is a beast with fighting skills, with a mask on his face and piercing eyes that make her heart beat fast.
As Feyre starts to grow warmer about Tamlin, danger lies nearby and secrets are all over the place, and Tamlin and his kind might not be who she thought they were.
Fighting to break a curse that might make her lose her true love forever, Feyre must fight with all her forces, but she is just a weak human in this faerie world. Will she be able to make it?
I have to start with mentioning that the beginning was extremely slow and I was almost on the point of asking all of these people why they love this book so much. But once the plot started revealing itself, and a few twists happened straight away, I was glued to my sofa, reading page after page.
It gives us a slight resemblance of the Beauty and the Beast, even though the plot is quite different. There is a powerful beast who locks the girl, and they fall in love, but there is so much more twists, adventures and danger that I can’t compare them beyond that.
I loved Feyre, for the fierce woman she is. I loved the fight she had in herself, despite being a tiny human in a world of powerful magical creatures. I loved the fact that she would stand up for what she believes in, no matter the consequences, though sometimes, quite recklessly done.
I loved Tamlin, and his warmth despite his cold appearance. The way he cared for Feyre was so heartwarming and cute. The love they feel for each other, and those scenes that made me cry – I will cherish that!
I am not sure how I felt about the ending – it was a bit forced, and too soppy, but it opened a space for another book, which I will be reading soon.
A wonderful magical tale, a fierce woman, a fiercer love, and even fiercer danger, this one won’t let you sleep at night, and it will haunt you to find answers. A true masterpiece!
Let’s talk – Have you read A Court of Thorns and Roses? Did you enjoy it? Have you read anything else from Sarah J. Maas?
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★★★★ (3.8 ★, to be exact)
Sometimes, we enter a library, not really knowing what we are looking for. One day, I entered the library, only to return a few books. Instead, I returned with two more. The first one didn’t impress me, but the second one was this book –The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. I only picked it up, because I liked the cover. And I know, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I guess the magic worked on me this time around.
This book featured six stories, all six magical and beautiful in their own way. Some attracted me more, some a bit less, but I, overall, feel delighted to have read this book. I haven’t read Leigh’s previous books, so I didn’t know about this world before, but these are apparently the same woods featured in those books as well.
I will give a brief opinion on all stories, and the main rating will be the average from them all. Let’s go.
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1. Ayama and the Thorn Wood – ★★★★★
‘’Interesting things only happen to pretty girls.’’
A beautiful tale that will show you how beauty comes from within. The King and Queen have two sons – one is a beautiful man, the future king, and the other one is a monster. They are scared and ashamed of the monster-boy, and let him live his life in the labyrinth they made for him. In the village, in a poor family, there are two daughters, one as beautiful as the sun, and the other one ugly. When the monster escapes the labyrinth and starts ruining fields and make disasters, everyone is scared to go and talk to him and beg for forgiveness, so the ugly lady is sent to her woods – quite certain she will never return…
‘’This little prince was shaped a bit like a boy but more like a wolf, his body covered in slick black fur from crown to clawed foot. His eyes were red as blood, and the nubs of two budding horns protruded from his head.’’
2. The Too-Clever Fox – ★★★★★
‘’Freedom is a burden, but you will learn to bear it.’’
I loved this story the most, out of all six of them. It reminded me of home, and of how we tell stories back there. The whole ‘’Once Upon a Time’’ is real, and I enjoyed every moment of it. The winter theme, the hunting, the girl and the fox. This is a story that will teach you to not be assured you can outsmart everyone. Foxes in stories have always been presented as the smart ones, outsmarting every animal in the woods. This reminds me of Aesop’s Tales, which I really loved as a little girl. But sometimes, you will get outsmarted, and it might cost you your life. The twist was definitely unexpected, but indeed satisfying.
3. The Witch of Duva – ★★★
A story where girls disappear, and one girl decides to go into the woods and try to figure out why. This story upset me, and I didn’t like it. But deep inside, it’s a good one. Very creepy though, and very horror-y, but worth reading. Turn the lights off, get under a blanket, turn your torch on, and only then you will be ready to know the deep secrets this story tells you.
4. Little Knife – ★★★★
The shortest story in the book, but by all means not the least intriguing. A story that features a woman that is too beautiful, that men lose their mind as soon as they see her. To get the chance to marry her, men will have to go through a various of tasks. The twist at the end is incredible, and I really liked it. It starts off as a usual story, but it goes wild.
5. The Soldier Prince – ★★
This was a story I enjoyed the least. It all screamed ‘’The Nutcracker’’ to me, and I couldn’t see it as original. It was a re-make, and it was very different that the story we know, but it just didn’t work for me. This is a story about a man who makes toys and gives them life. And when one toy sort of ‘’wakes up’’, interesting things start to happen. Quite a creepy story. I usually like those, but this one was not my cup of tea.
6. When Water Sand Fire – ★★★★
‘’ We were not made to please princes.’’
This one is the longest story in the book. It features a world of creatures living underwater, and Ulla, who can sing and create magic, but who, as the people believe, is not a true born, but a mix between the underwater world and the humans. She is asked to help the prince become a king, but when the magic price is too high to paid, it doesn’t seem like she has a choice. I truly enjoyed this story, as it’s a beautiful mix of emotions while you read it. It was a bit disappointing that it seems as a remake of the creation of the character of Ursula from The Little Mermaid, at least to me.
Have you read this book, or any of Leigh Bardugo’s books? Let me know in the comments, I love to chat with you!