I received this book through LibraryThing’s Early Review program.
THE CLOCKWORK FAIRY KINGDOM by Leah Cutter is the second book of hers I’ve read and I’ll admit to going in with a few hesitations due to my experience in the first book. I’m happy to report that she has improved.
The writing was better and I cared much, much more about the characters in this novel than I did the last. I found her treatment of the fairy caste system to be interesting, although I am a bit perturbed that the highest caste is described as fairer, paler than the lower castes. It’s not a big part of the story, but considering that Cutter did diversity SO WELL in the other book of hers I am hoping that we see a bit more diversity of color in the higher castes in the second book of the trilogy.
Dale and Nora are smart, well-balanced kids (both in general and well-balanced against each other). I must say, I loved that Nora saw art in destruction as much as in creation. I think that made a beautiful thematic thread in the story. And Dale, as an inherent fixer, not being able see that beauty also felt very real to me. The twins’ contrasting powers very much so were what I wanted in them.
However, just like the last book, I felt like the plot was unformed, like the author wasn’t sure where she was going until she got there. The villain wasn’t clear from the beginning. In fact, until the last few chapters, I thought the villain was Kostya. Then Chris showed up out of NOWHERE – not having been mentioned for chapters on chapters – and he seemed to be the central villain. And then it was back to Queen Adele and maybe Kostya and then Chris and then someone else! It was such a muddle. Also, much like the last book by Cutter that I read, the pacing was tentative, almost frightened, like the author wasn’t sure the reader would like it and stay with her if the pace picked up. I want to reach through the words and scream, “BE BOLD.”
I think this author could use a confidence boost – it would help her good writing be great. However, I do look forward to the next book!
Solid B (improved writing, good characters; plot still muddled and lost, tentative pacing)
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