Thursday, October 09, 2014 10:18

Review 292. Elissa Sussman – Stray.

17617617Title: Stray.
Author: Elissa Sussman.
Pages: 384.
Published: October 7th 2014 by Greenwillow books.
Sort: Four Sisters #1.
Princess Aislynn has long dreamed about attending her Introduction Ball, about dancing with the handsome suitors her adviser has chosen for her, about meeting her true love and starting her happily ever after. When the night of the ball finally arrives and Nerine Academy is awash with roses and royalty, Aislynn wants nothing more than to dance the night away, dutifully following the Path that has been laid out for her. She does not intend to stray. But try as she might, Aislynn has never quite managed to control the magic that burns within her-magic brought on by wicked, terrible desires that threaten the Path she has vowed to take. After all, it is wrong to want what you do not need. Isn’t it?
Rating:

Let me say this right away: this book isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s slow-paced and character- driven, the world-building needs more work and you have to deal with old, traditional ways that suck. I liked it, but there were moments I wanted more. This book feels more like a step-up for the real story, but my overall opinion is that it’s enjoyable.

“I am grateful for my father, who keeps me good and sweet. I am grateful for my mother, who keeps her own heart guarded and safe. I am grateful for my adviser, who keeps me protected. I am grateful for the Path, which keeps me pure. Ever after.”


Aislynn is a disappointment. She can’t control her magic , she is too close with her fairy godmother and she is disobedient. The leader of the Nerine Academy is afraid she will stray away from her Path, especially since her best friend disappeared. She is send to another academy to be Redirected; instead of dazzling parties and handsome princes, Aislynn will be trained to become a fairy godmother. Hidden away in the clothes of her new function, Aislynn becomes the godmother of princess Linnea. When Aislynn receives a mirror from her old fairy godmother, she finds out there is a lot more going on at her academy.

The world where Aislynn lives in is hard. She is constantly punished for the fact she can't perform the magic tasks they ask from her. She is badly treated and pushed around without having anything to say about it. I was fascinated by ‘the Path’ and how people can ‘stray’ and become outcasts like the Wicked Queen Josetta. When the Academy decides you aren’t on the right track, they change your future and therefore your ‘Path.’ You should never question them and always comply to their wishes. You have to stay true to the vows you made to the strict patriarchal doctrine of the land.

It’s obvious from the beginning that Aislynn's curious nature and big mouth are going to get her in trouble, especially in combination with her wild, uncontrollable magic. I liked how strong she was and how she accepts her change of life without too much complaining. The down-side was that she fell bland to me. I never connected with Aislynn and honestly, she is very boring. When you are taken from your Path, I would expect emotions, but I guess she has learned not to question them?

The hints of magic, never too much explored, make me curious for the sequel. I want to see what Aislynn is capable of and how it’s going to help her after the confrontation at the end of this book. There was a lot of magical failure in the book, probably to show us what a disappointment Aislynn is supposed to be, but there are some lucky moments where she gets it right. I want her to break free to explore her limits.

There wasn’t much romance, unexpected for a fairytale retelling, and I was pleasantly surprised by it. Granted, there is something going on between characters, but I didn't really care for it. It needs more time and a more prominent place in the story to become interesting. It's the same with the world-building. It's good, but it could have more structure. We are left with a lot of details that doesn't seem to come together. I also hope that the sequel provides more information about the Wicked Queen. The short mentions of her and the revelation at the end of Stray make me curious.

As I said, the pacing is slow and the middle part is mostly about character development, but I will give the sequel a try. It wasn't the best book ever, but if you have some patience and a lot of love for fairytales like me, I think you might appreciate what the authors is trying to achieve - but it needs work.
author image

Mel@thedailyprophecy

Mel is a microbiology technician who is obsessed with Disney, fairytale retellings and fantasy. If she's not reading or blogging, she's either busy with gaming, hanging out with family or watching a TV show. She loves summer and bright nail polish. One of her dreams is to travel the world. She has found her Prince Charming and they are together for 7+ years.

21 comments:

  1. I enjoyed this one more than you did, Mel, but I completely agree that I was left wanting more details, especially about the supposed evil queen! I also liked that the romance didn't take center stage, but I do think we'll see more of it in future books. Great honest review, as always! :D

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    1. I know for sure that the romance will play a more prominent role. It's a fairytale story after all :p

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  2. Slow with bland characters? Doesn't sound like the story for me. :| I reeeeally need my characters to pop off the page, or else I really fail to connect to them. And slow? GAH. I CAN'T STAND SLOW! It is quite cool that the romance takes a side-seat for once. That does make the book a little unique. :)

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    1. Hmm, I suggest skipping this one in that case Cait!

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  3. I'm seen this one around but haven't really heard much about it. See, my biggest fear is not connecting with the character because that can really make or break a book for me. It's a shame you didn't really like Aislynn but, to be honest, she sounds too complacent for my liking as well. I've got to be in a particular mood for slow paced books otherwise I'd never finish them. Thanks for a honest review, Mel. I may just skip this one :)

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  4. So even though this one didn't wow you, the premise has me really intrigued. Slower paced books can be a hit or a miss - if they are well done, I don't mind them but it's always a gamble. I might wait for the sequel to decide whether or not I should read it or I might just go ahead and read it anyway and hope for the best.

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  5. I've been seeing this one around but yours is the first review I've read for it. I'm intrigued, despite the issues you mention having with it...the Path makes me curious and I already want more details on it. It's unfortunate that the MC came off boring and that the magic and all that wasn't explored more. Sometimes first books can be lacking like that but the sequel could always make up for it! I might just wait till the sequel comes out to see if some of the issues get resolved but I'm definitely curious! Thanks for another lovely review Mel ♥

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  6. This is the first review I read about this book, and though I wasn't really excited to read, I wanted to try it... but now, well, I'm not sure. It sounds kind of boring.
    I just read some quotes and they're not that great.
    Thanks for the review, Mel!

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  7. I'm planning to get to this one soon but I am a little nervous now. It doesn't sound incredibly awful, it just doesn't sound very good. I will still be reading it, I'll just be lowering my expectations quite a bit.

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  8. I'm REALLY picky about slow pacing and character development in books. I enjoy character development, but I like when it can be done in a way that keeps me entertained. Too many authors write books where the character development is taking place and NOTHING is happening otherwise. I may or may not pick this one up. The premise is interesting enough, but I trust your reading tastes enough to know this might not be the one for me. :( Great review!

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  9. Huuugs. I am so sorry you didn't love this book, Mel :( It was a four star review for me. I kind of loved it, hih. <3 but I understand you too, mostly :D I just thought it was awesome, despite some flaws ;p I do hope you will end up reading the sequels, though. <3 thank you for sharing and being honest :) you are awesome.

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  10. I'm all for character driven novels, but slow paced ones are a different story altogether, plus that traditional ways thing you mentioned doesn't sound overly appealing either. Good on you though for still giving the sequel a chance, that's my go-to rule, so I'm happy to see that I'm not the only blogger who does that.

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  11. SIGHHHHH. I've been hearing such mixed things about this one that I'm SO SO SO conflicted on what to do! DANGIT. haha. I'm probably going to give it a chance when I know I'm in the mood where I can handle a slower story. Thanks for your honest opinion!

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  12. I don't hate slow, character-driven novels...as long as the characters are interesting, not boring. It sounds really interesting and I may still give it a go, but I'll go in with trepidations. Thanks for your review, Mel!

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  13. yeah too slow sounding for me. I'm surprised you're still so interested in reading the next one.

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  14. Great review Melanie! It sounds like it had a lot of potential, but not being able to connect to the main character would have made it fall flat for you. Not having a romance would have been a pleasant surprise though!

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  15. Oooh, it sounded interesting but since I'm reading slow books at school, I don't know if I could put myself through that with a fiction book I'm WANTING to read :P I have to admit that character development sounds interesting though! I love me some character development <3 Very nice and in depth review!

    Tori @ Bookish Affairs

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  16. Sorry this one didn't work for you, Mel! I've heard mostly mixed/negative reviews, so I'll probably hold off on it myself. It's never good when the main character is boring and you can't connect with the plot. Plus we all know I need plenty of romance. :P
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, girl!

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    1. I think you wouldn't like this one so much, so I think it's better to stay away! :)

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  17. I couldn't stand this book, I did give it three stars because it was written well, but all that women second class citizen stuff, self harm and bordering on abuse got to me...Good review!
    My review if you wanna compare :)
    http://hauntedgravebooks.blogspot.com/2014/12/stray-by-elissa-sussman.html

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