Monday, 21 November 2016

Songs of Everealm #3 - Song of Sorrow

Nothing has gone according to Princess Sarita's plan. From near drowning to almost plummeting off the side of a mountain, she has had to face many obstacles that have dared to come between her and her quest for magic. Unfortunately, the challenge she must face now is the desires of her own heart.

A crazy scheme could be the answer to everyone's dreams or the end of them...

Two disclaimers to get out the way before I start this review.

First up, I was given a free copy of Song of Sorrow by author J D Wright in exchange for an honest review.

Second, I recently started watching Atlanta on FX, reawakening my obsession with Donald Glover that I thought I'd got over when I stopped binge-watching Community. But now it's back with a venegeance, so this review's GIFs are all Donald Glover, all the time. Enjoy!

It's no secret that I love the Everealm series (you can check out my various reviews of the seven books in the series here).

After a failed expedition to gain magic, Princess Sarita has returned home to Junacave, resigned to the idea that she will never have magic. It's not all bad though. Because in Everealm people with magic can't be a king or queen, Sarita's now free to pursue her relationship with King Cassidy without having to consciously abandon her dream. Except it isn't that simple. Cassidy's still determined to make her follow through on her plan, even if it costs him the girl he loves. It's a plot that could be resolved with a five minute conversation. But it isn't. And that's not a bad thing, because it means we get another Everealm book.

That said, the characters need their heads banging together! Honestly, it's a little infuriating to read another book of aguing between Sarita and Cassidy (and to a lesser extent, Gabby and Oliver), when it's not entirely clear what they're fighting about. Everyone's acknowledged their feelings to themselves, but they're still holding out. And just when you think the characters are on the verge of confronting their emotions and having a conversation, they immediately begin arguing again. Why aren't these guys coupled up? What's the problem?

Song of Sorrow is one of those journey books, where the purpose of the trip takes a backseat to the trip itself, and that's totally fine with me. Bickering aside, I really do enjoy reading road trips, where the plot sees characters out exploring their world rather than confined to a castle, and this book has plenty. Granted, there's more than a hint of repetition from earlier books in the series (this is now the third magical stone that Princess Sarita has gone on a quest for in as many books), but J D Wright mixes it up a bit this time out and I was glad to get the first sea voyage of the series and start moving into new kingdoms and realms rather than revisiting old ones. Not a bad thing necessarily, but at book #3 (or #8 if you count the 5 Everealm books), some new blood is definitely needed. I love the sense of boundless possibility in this series, even if realism - if there is such a thing in realm of magic and fantasy - takes a backseat at times. I mean, Cassidy is supposed to be a king, but yet frequently disappears out of his kingdom for weeks on end, usually without so much as a single personal guard with apparently no consequence. You think he'd be busy doing ... I don't know ... royal stuff.

I got on board with the new couplings in this book. Yes I saw them coming a mile off, but yes I still really liked these ones. Despite a sprawling cast of characters, there are none whose chapters/paragraphs I skim read, and there's only one I actively dislike. I said in my last review about my issue with the character of Calista, and these are still very much present and correct in Sorrow. I've come around to the pairing of her and Jake, even if the two people who hate each other are forced together and fall in love cliche isn't my cup of tea, but she's just such an ungrateful moaner. After running away from Jake and being rejected by her mother, Calista - somehow - finds a man to take her in, letting her stay at his house for free while he feeds and clothes her, and rather than showing any gratitude, she buggers off with Jake at the first opportunity without so much as a thank you to the guy, then makes all sorts of spiteful comments about how boring and dull the man was. I'm sure you weren't exactly a picnic to live with either, sweetheart!

It would be nice to see Calista embrace her magic and discover some sort of inner strength and independance, but alas this doesn't happen here. Luckily, there's relatively new - at least to the narrative - character Jo around to up the independent women quota. Her sort of relationship with Gabby's ex-fiance Garrison was incredibly sweet. It even managed to win me over after a few early eye rolls and pursed lips. The contrarian in me finds the tidy pairings in this series a little bit too convenient at times, but these guys were cute.

It was great to see the story starting to expand out into new parts of Everealm, with new kingdoms and families and creatures starting to make an appearance - although I wish most of them hadn't appeared so near the end of the book! The story ends so abruptly that I thought my copy was missing a chapter or two. Come on J D Wright, you can't leave me hanging like this until book #4/#9!

I really enjoyed this book, much like Song of Sovereign and Sparrows, it's a fantastically enjoyable read. After a spate of violent and somewhat mean-spirited fantasy reads recently, it's nice to read a lighthearted story that doesn't wallow in tragic backstory or pile misery onto the protagonist. But there is an undeniable feeling of deja vu in this book from the previous ones. The quest, the arguing, the pairings, I loved reading them the first time around and I certainly don't object to reading them again, but it does feel a bit like the story's going around in circles rather than moving forward. I'm hoping for a bit of backlash to the events at the end. Without giving too much away, a relatively small and seemingly sweet event could have huge implications for the relations between kingdoms and the potential for new enemies and obstacles to come into play (I've said it before and I'll say it again, no one's come close to matching Silas for menace and epic villainy!), so bring on Song of Shadows!


It's a thumbs up from me and Donald Glover!

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