The Storyspinner is a debut novel by Becky Wallace. It’s traditional high fantasy for the Young Adult market. I heard about it when it was first announced and was intrigued from the very start. Last week I picked it up between reviews and writing and read it in my spare time. It was exactly everything that I wanted.
The Storyspinner is two basic plot lines told from several third person point-of-views. We follow Johanna, a young woman from the Performers, as she witnesses her Father’s death. This sets of a chain of events that completely alter her life. After being forced from the Performers, Johanna and her family are living in the public forest in Santiago, the ducal of the DeSilva house. The reigning duke, Rafael DeSilva, happens upon Johanna when she shoots a deer and tracks it onto his land. The law forbids shooting a deer on the DeSilva land and Rafi, believing her to be a poacher (and a man), attempts to stop the crime. Johanna, heavily trained in acrobatics, fights back. The result is a chilling conflict that sets up the plot for the rest of the book.
At the same time, a group of Keepers, those blessed with magical abilities, are on a mission for the Mage Council. The barrier between two lands is weakening and is in danger of disappearing forever. The barrier requires two anchors to stabilize it. The Olinda side is stable but the Santarem side is attached to the royals and the heir has been missing for years. While on the pursuit, they unearth a series of murders that threatens the safety of their mission; someone is murdering victims that resemble the lost heir. The Keepers, determined to succeed, are racing against time and other dangers in order to ensure that the magical barrier stays in place. Everything depends on their success.
There is so much to love about The Storyspinner. For one thing it is fast paced easy reading. It is a good book for a reader who is not a fantasy reader but wants to explore the genre. The world building is subtle and simple with no archaic dense languages or complicated magic systems to be found. Everything is neat and tidy and very easily accessible.
The second perk is the characters; a lively, likable, well-rounded group of people. In the estate of the DeSilvas you have Rafi, his brother Dom, their Mother, all of the nobles, Johanna, and her family (including her three rambunctious younger brothers). In the camp of people coming from Olinda you have Jacaré, his sister Pira, Mage Leão, and Texugo, their mentor. The chapters frequently change adding unpredictable vivacity to the action. The narrators are interesting and fully developed, the plot well-paced. You’re swept up into the action before you even realize it!
In the midst of this book lies two impossibly sweet romances. The best part is that they don’t overpower the action or the characters themselves and yet the reader can’t help but cheer for the players. The dynamics leading up to these moments are believable and harsh and sweet and magical.
Part George R.R. Martin, part Marie Rutkoski, The Storyspinner is its own unique brand of storytelling magic. I loved this book. I loved everything about it. I finished it in a rush and felt the visceral, heart-wrenching impact of a sudden standstill. I want book two… Scratch that. I need book two!
More of this please, Becky Wallace. More of this!
5 out of 5 stars.
* The Storyspinner releases March 3, 2015.
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