A WOMAN ALONE IN A MAN’S WORLD OF MAGIC . . . She saw her parents murdered when she was but a child. Rescued from the ruins of her family’s homestead by a teacher of the Divine Art, Mereddyd-a-Lagan swore to learn the powerful secrets necessary to track down the murderers and exact vengeance. But first she would have to overcome centuries of prejudice against female mages, and become the first ever female apprentice to the Meri — the otherworldly Being who stands between humanity and the Spirit of the Universe. But on the eve her quest for the Meri is to begin, Mereddyd learns that she is not the first woman in history to take the path to the Meri’s shore. . . . And that the one who went before her never returned.
~from Amazon’s book summary
The book’s presentation is understated, which won’t necessarily get it a first look from the casual bookstore browser. The color is brown, the artwork is nice, and the depth is slim at 216 pages.
After the cover’s blandness, Bohnhoff’s beautiful writing style was surprising. She has a way of weaving words that create vibrant scenes and emotional introspections that are quite charming. Her way with words alone is enough for me to recommend this book.
Unfortunately, the impressive cadence of her prose doesn’t blossom into a rich, spectacular story. The Meri is merely satisfactory. It works off some tried-and-true themes like coming of age, resisting oppression, and rising above religious dogmatism, but the story relies too much on Mereddyd’s point of view to fully explore those ideas. The author only haphazardly throws in outside perspectives when she can’t achieve her objective within the narrow narrative format she had chosen. The final chapter, which should have carried an emotional wallop, is told from the point of view of a male apprentice who holds some affection for Mereddyd, but the reader is never allowed to invest in his tale earlier in the book, so narrating from his perspective seems out-of-place and muted. The book would have been stronger from one point-of-view exclusively or spread out more evenly across the entire book.
Mereddyd is most certainly a heroine that Bohnhoff has a strong sense of, but the supporting cast is what fails in this book. It’s almost as if the author wasn’t interested enough in writing from any other perspective, and that makes the reading somewhat uninteresting. Characters are sold as much by their own participation as they are by how other characters react and interact with them. Perhaps the author would have been better off sticking to a sole point-of-view book.
A Fangirl’s Perspective
The fantastical elements in this book are anchored around magic derived from divine power. Some women may relate to the book’s portrayal of a rigid religious regime that empowers men and undermines women. There are classic fantasy motifs of the sage teacher, dueling interests for romantic attention, and discovery of self through a journey highlighted by supernatural events. Mereddyd’s evolution, though, seems more a construct of the plot design than a true self-awakening, and therefore it falls a little flat.
Again, the beauty of the prose makes this book worth the read but it’s far from a masterpiece.