Saturday, September 13, 2014

REVIEW: Faerie Tales from the White Forest Omnibus by Danika Dinsmore

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

This omnibus contains the first three books of the Faerie Tales from the White Forest series: Brigitta of the White Forest, The Ruins of Noe, and Ondelle of Grioth. I am reviewing each book separately, and the star rating above is an average of the three.

Brigitta of the White Forest (Book 1) - 6 stars
Brigitta embarks on a bold journey to save her realm from the mysterious curse that has turned all the other faeries to stone. Accompanied by her sister Himalette, the only other who was spared the curse, the two leave the protection of the White Forest to seek help from a faerie banished to Dead Mountain long ago. What ensues is a grand adventure filled with menacing beasts and ominous danger. But with the help of some unlikely allies, the two might just be able to save the day.

The author does a lot of world building in this first volume, and thoughtfully included a lexicon at the end to further elaborate on the intricate details of this magical realm. It's indeed written with a young adult audience in mind, though learning the complexities of an entirely new world may be a bit intimidating to less experienced young readers.

One thing that disappointed me slightly is that I never fully connected with the main characters, even though I liked them well enough. While the author was wonderfully detailed in constructing this beautiful faerie realm, I didn't feel that same depth extended to the characters. Instead I felt more like a comrade traveling alongside them, never really experiencing the wonder of the land through their eyes, or feeling what they felt. Lacking that, I lost a level of intimacy and immersion that I often experience with other fantasy novels. I saw an Amazon reviewer mention a similar sentiment and noted that Ms. Dinsmore comes from a background in script writing, which probably explains this somewhat. In any case, I'm hoping to see the author gain her stride in later volumes and let us live this magical world more fully through her characters.

The Ruins of Noe (Book 2) - 7 stars
The faeries of the White Forest have begun to lose touch with the Ancients—baby faerie are born with eyes of crystal white, and the spirits of the deceased are no longer being dispersed. An ancient prophecy predicts these events, and foretells of the coming of a guiding light, which a single faery would call by name. And so it is that Brigitta recognizes the whisper light, which slipped through the protected perimeter surrounding their realm, and becomes the one referenced in the prophecy. Brigitta and High Priestess Ondelle travel to the valley of Noe, the original home of the Ancients, in order to seek the means to make the elemental balance right again.

I liked this second book a bit better than the first as there was more action and danger. I started to feel a bit more connected to Brigitta too, even though I still feel as if the author is writing from the outside looking in instead of living in her characters' skins more fully—she tends to describe actions and places with a lot of detail but really scrimps on the feelings of the characters. If that characteristic of her writing style was changed, I could easily see this series moving up into 8 or 9 star territory.

Ondelle of Grioth (Book 3) - 8 stars
Brigitta has absorbed HP Ondelle's air energy and is learning to control it, but finds she's now being bombarded with the former High Priestess's memories as well—memories that are speaking to her, leading her to a destiny she does not yet fully understand. With the whole of Faweh still not in balance, several daunting tasks remain if their way of life in the White Forest is to be preserved. With her destiny spread out before her, Brigitta is leading the charge.

I was left with a feeling of awe as I finished this third book in the series. On the one hand, the awe-inspiring wilderness of the terrain thru which Brigitta and her friends traveled—cold and beautiful at times, hot and deadly at others—and the vividness with which the author describes them, makes you feel as if you're traveling right there along with Brigitta and her friends. On the other hand, their most important journey wasn't fully complete at the close of this book, so I was also thinking, "awww must I really wait until Summer of 2015 for the next book to be released?"

I still didn't get into Brigitta's head as much as I'd have liked to, but by now I became used to being more of a traveling companion alongside her rather than feeling like I was seeing this world through her own eyes. The fact that I still give this book 8 stars (or 4 for Amazon/Goodreads) goes to show how great I think the rest of the story is here. I am sure that despite that single shortcoming (which I've pointed out above), this will be one of those books that stays with me for awhile. Certainly, I hope, long enough for me to remember everything by the time I pick up the 4th book next summer.

*I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*