With the Feeling of a Traditional Fairytale – The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

“The world is alive with words.”

tbats

The powered people of Lark’s world are hunted, people are frightened of them to the point of violence, so of course they must hide. Lark inherited the gift of a Teller from her mother, meaning she can manipulate the world with words. But on the day her mother was killed she pressed a curse upon Lark, and now she cannot speak the words that are desperate to escape, and her life is tied to her father’s to keep her safe.
She lives an almost invisible life, until the king decides to use her as a pawn in the game to keep his throne from her father who longs for it. But the king hides a secret of his own, one he believes Lark can solve with the words she cannot speak. And with a dangerous threat invading the kingdom she has a chance not only to save the kingdom but to find a true home.

I’m actually going to try and talk about this book without giving into the urge to reveal spoilers.

I got this book for Christmas so of course it was one of the ones sat on the top of my TBR for 2017. It sounded like a truly original tale, something along the lines the traditional fairy tales of Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson. I saw mixed reviews on this book, but decided that I should make up my mind for myself and ignore the reviews (ironic), and  I enjoyed it. It did not blow me away with complicated plots or complex but lovable characters but I’m glad I read it nonetheless.

The prose itself was beautifully written, it flowed easily and simply felt magical. Harmon clearly has a way with words herself, not just Lark. In 300+ pages a lot happened, and while I enjoyed how fast paced the novel was, I was left wishing that parts of it had been developed further. This book was heavy on the romance, which took up much of the plot, but it had some great moments of conflict within it that could’ve been extended into more of a key feature if allowed to progress.  Particularly the end conflict and the resolution of the fear of powered people. Mild spoiler (I knew one would come up) – the people just give up their hatred of the powered people because they destroyed a more dangerous force? It came about too easily, and though the book did show some people having more sympathy for them than others, this should not suddenly solve hundreds of years of prejudice. (It would be nice if that did happen, then maybe we could do something about the political situation at the moment but the horrible truth is that it doesn’t – some people are just that stupid). Although this is a fantasy story, I suppose real life logic does not apply when the hero of our story can make tables dance around the room.

One thing I did love about this book was Lark. She was intriguing from the get go. A girl who could not speak, her only companion a troll name Boojohni, and someone who tried to take any piece of freedom she could from her neglectful father. She had seen horrors at a young age and cursed by her mother, yet was still inherently good – one of the first things we witness is her innocent desire to help an injured bird and her connection to the world around her. She even helps the king by using her powers, even though she knows that this could mean her death. This character really held the book together for me. And though she was very heavily doused in cliche romance trope (one that happened too quickly for my tastes, but I’ve always loved a good slow burn) this did not take away from her character as it often can.

Though I didn’t make an as good of connection with King Tiras – his mood and behaviour were too erratic and unpredictable for me to click with – I actually enjoyed reading about his brother Kjell. He was a well written complex character, one who actually moved through the  period of acceptance in relation to Lark’s powers at a realistic speed. I also enjoyed the conflict within himself, but I wish there had been more focus on him throughout.

Overall I did enjoy this novel, I was just left wanting more from the intriguing world Harmon created.

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