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If I could rate this book based on a summary of events, it would be five stars. It’s got a princesses disguised as a boy, sword fighting, pirates, an evil sorceress, romance, sea monsters, treasure, and a happily ever after. ♪ ♫These are a few of my favorite things! ♪ ♫
Unfortunately, what The House of the Four Winds suffers from is poor pacing. The initial boat trip stretches on far too long and we aren’t even introduced to the villain until well past the half way mark. Things drag on, (the reverend, the magical amnesia,) and are then resolved with little to no fanfare or impact. The climax felt clumsy and a big reveal didn’t have enough time or emotion behind it to feel shocking. If I could take 75 pages from the early set up and reassign them to the climax, I’d be a lot happier.
Furthermore, I am very disappointed in the worldbuilding. It’s Earth, but because of the discovery of magic, everything’s different! Well, the country and city names are different. Except Manna-hattan. And everything’s pretty analogous to 18th Century Europe. But it’s totally different!
And your African parallel is still being plundered for slave trade? Spare me.
Now, there are positives for this book. Clarice is a really fun character. I was very impressed with the way she handled herself on the ship. She’s level headed and good, but still acted when the situation called for it. I really appreciated that she accepted her feelings for Dominick and then moved on with her life because nothing could be done about it right then. The romance was nice, evolving in a natural and sweet way. I really liked and appreciated that his virginity and her lack there of was an absolute non-issue. Go Mercedes, flip that script.
The House of the Four Winds isn’t a fairy tale retelling, but it has a lot of similarities to old classics. It actually has a lot in common with Ms. Lackey’s Five Hundred Kingdom’s series, in both tone and structure. It’s not my favorite series, but it’s one I’m always happy to come across. I suspect the One Dozen Daughters will be the same way.
Slow start led to some odd pacing, and repetitive word choices and choppy writing made it difficult to fully immerse. Still, if you enjoy the Five Hundred Kingdoms, you should be satisfied with what Lackey delivers here: an original story that evokes classic fairy tales.