Let me tell you: it’s not as exciting as it sounds. Quite the opposite, in fact. One would think that a book with such a premise – the X-men under a vicious Professor X on a mission to protect a secret space programme set in the historical dystopia of Communist Russia – would be thrilling and utterly nerve-wracking. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. What I got was a great idea weakly executed with flat characters, a forseeable twist, and a writing style and tempo that bored me to death. It speaks volumes that I rejoiced upon finishing it after an eight months hiatus. Maybe I just shouldn’t have picked it up again . . .
Have you ever heard of the Norwegian folk tale „East of the Sun and West of the Moon“? No? Well, me neither – until I read this wonderful retelling which is truly a fairytale in itself. But how could something based on a story with one of the most beautiful titles I ever heard be anything else but magical? To describe East in as little words as possible, I’d say it’s Beauty and the Beast plus trolls – and wind roses and mapmakers, superstition and prophecy, weaving, sewing and magical dresses, a castle inside a mountain, a light that should not have been lit, and a long and rocky journey to a palace in an icy barren land east of the sun and west of the moon . . .
Anna zu Pferde [Anna on Horseback] has everything young Ellie wanted in a novel: a kickass heroine, horses, a great atmospheric setting, a family mystery, and an unexpected romance. Reading it for a second time, the mystery fades into the background but I came to appreciate the historical setting much more than I did when I was younger. Just in case you were wondering: first and foremost, this is actually historical fiction. The title of this novel comes from the title of a painting of Anna and her horse that’s part of the story. Given that it is 1630, horses have to play a part if a character wants to get from A to B. Nevertheless, Anna’s close relationship to her horse is present but never in the foreground . . .
Let’s face it: no matter how many people recommended it to me, telling me that I would love it, in the end, it just wasn’t for me. They weren’t wrong; the premise of this novel promises everything I love: great world building, an interesting heroine, a mesmerising love interest, who seems to be just how I like my male characters (dark, brooding, mysterious, more or less evil, et al.), and a fascinating plot. Unfortunately, after a strong start, the story began to drag on. Too many flat secondary characters and flash backs as well as a relationship dynamic that wasn’t as intriguing as I hoped it to be sucked the thrill right out of the story. All in all, I feel like the novel wasn’t able to fulfil its potential because one book was not enough to round out all the now unfortunately half-baked aspects . . .
I bet you thought that this is a horse novel, but really, it is not. It’s more or less the 1987s version of a New Adult novel that has incidentally horses in it because it’s set on a farm. You’re probably not convinced yet. After all, there’s a horse on the cover and it has ’stallion‘ in the title (well, one could read it metaphorically, but we really, really don’t want to go there) . . .
14MrzReview: Nearly Gone
I really, truly tried to like this novel but unfortunately this is one of those that have a great premise but fall utterly short of my expectations. A sciencey murder mystery with a paranormal element? Well, that totally could have been awesome! However, it just didn’t work out for me; in other words, the pieces of the puzzle that should have added up to an awesome story didn’t link . . .
I can’t remember how I first learned about this novel. I can’t remember what made me buy it. However, I remember that I ordered it at my local bookshop one early summer shortly before I went on holidays in France with my Mum and my sister. I remember, because I started this novel when we hit the road and couldn’t put it aside. I read it while we drove through Germany, I read it at that strange and blazing hot hostel in Freiburg, I read it on our way through half of France, and I finished literally the second we arrived at the campsite in the Gorges du Chassezsac. It was the magic of the novel that glued me to its pages. Since then, including this one, I reread it three times . . .