A lot of books come my way for review, and I read others to stay informed for the blog. At any one time I might be juggling two or three, which is simply a function of the fact that much of what I read is more for the blog than entertainment. One of the main reasons I blog, though, is because at the end of the day I want more books out there that I’d want to pick up and read for the sheer pleasure of it. One evening recently, then, I was delighted to realize I hadn’t gone back to my second or third book in my rotation but subconsciously decided that War of the Seasons: Book One: The Human was my number one until I got to the end.
With an opening about spelunking and a main character named Story, author Janine Spendlove understands the idea that books need a hook. Just the character’s name makes you wonder what the story is behind a name like Story. I went into this book with little idea what it was about, partly because the descriptions I could find were a bit nebulous. But the cover evoked memories of the Narnia books and the famous lantern in the forest. Quickly enough the reader discovers this is a portal fantasy with elves, dwarves, and dryads, familiar elements that the author spices up with her own world-building.
Story’s journey isn’t like the Pensives’, though. She hasn’t fallen into a magical realm alongside friends or family. She is very much alone and emotionally damaged, yet still emerges as a determined survivor in a way that reminded me of Katniss Everdeen. Story at times veers into aggressive behavior that is almost shocking, especially early in the second book. What is refreshing, though, is that her actions aren’t blushed over and we see consequences for the character, even self-reflection. There is a love story embedded in War of the Seasons, and love is one of the emotions that drives Story, but it doesn’t inhibit the character or overwhelm the narrative. Story is a nurturer not a conqueror; although she may have to become the latter to be the former. I liked that she wrestled with that dynamic. Elf Eirnin and sidhe Morrigann are just as well-designed as the heroine. I also noticed the diversity in the cast. It doesn’t include simply elves or dwarves, but different skin and hair colors. One of my favorite little tidbits was the eye colors on the elves, which changed with their emotions.
Both novels in War of the Seasons are working within the conceits of a young adult tale, or at least I had that comfortable sense as I curled up with them each night. Even though the books felt familiar, the stories were both fresh and original. The author sits into her characters, and their motivations are consistent rather than plot-driven. The deeper into the narrative the tale gets, the more it becomes clear that considerable planning went into what happens from start to finish. Events from throughout the book have ramifications later, and that makes the journey so much more fun, and at times page-turn inducing. Within the world of Ailionora, the reader still experiences real-world issues like racism and perspectives on right and wrong are challenged, which gives both books enough resonance to make them interesting for those looking for mature themes in their literature.
Spendlove acknowledges authors Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston in her book. Her writing style mirrors the easy readability of those two master wordsmiths, where the words flow and the characters don’t make you stop and wonder why they are doing something. The tale just feels believable and the characters relatable. War of the Seasons: Book Two: The Half-Blood ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, and I am eagerly waiting on the third book. I definitely recommend giving these books a try.
Tricia Barr took her understanding of brand management and marketing, mixed it with a love of genre storytelling, and added a dash of social media flare to create FANgirl Blog, where she discusses Star Wars, fandom, and strong female characters. She also writes about Star Wars for Random House’s science fiction and fantasy blog Suvudu.com and Star Wars Insider magazine and is a contributor for Her Universe’s Year of the Fangirl.
Tricia is putting the finishing touches on her first novel, Wynde – a military science fiction with a fantastical twist that features heroines Vespa Wynde and Gemini Reed. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.