Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hero by Alethea Kontis

Posted by Ellie at 5:52 PM
Hero by Alethea Kontis
304 pages
★★★½

I won my copy of Hero from Goodreads and the lovely folks at Houghton-Mifflin!

Hero is the second book in the Woodcutter Sisters books by Alethea Kontis. It stars Saturday Woodcutter, the sixth of seven sisters. Saturday is the only normal sister in a family of fey-blessed children-- and she's rather insecure about it. Until she conjures an ocean and goes on a whirlwind adventure.

Our story brings us from her sister Thursday's pirate ship to the Top of the World, a mountain that houses a blind old Lorelei witch. It is here Saturday is being held captive after being mistaken for her eldest and presumed dead brother, Jack Woodcutter. Also held as prisoner is Peregrine, a boy whose been there for countless years after being cursed by the witch's daughter Leila. Completing the motley crew is a chimera named Betwixt, who shines brightly throughout the novel with his wit and amazing shape shifting.

Starting with the good is always a nice way to begins things, so I'll list the things I liked best. Saturday is a very interesting and unique character with her own quirks and failings. She is probably the most drastically different from the rest of her sisters, more like her older brother Peter. As a girl who grew up wearing trousers and working in the Wood rather than doing other typically girlish things it's not surprising! She is loud and brash and competitive and easily worked up. I liked all that about her, but I especially like when it all falls away and she is more vulnerable.

Peregrine, too, I really loved throughout the book, even more than Saturday. He was witty and charming and can really work a skirt. Without revealing spoilers, his story really broke my heart and at the end of the book when he -- well, no spoilers!

Unfortunately, as with all things, there were some things about Hero that disappointed me. It's not really a spoiler as you're told almost immediately in the book, but I never understood why Peregrine was having visions of Saturday. Seriously, I really can't think of any reason why.

Also, the romance felt odd and stilted. Peregrine was in love with Saturday under the illusion that she was Elodie, his betrothed, based from his visions, and Saturday was pretty much taken with him after she nearly killed him. Long story. It wasn't till the end that I actually enjoyed reading their romance, when it felt a little less convoluted and a little more real, but it still wasn't my favorite.

However, one thing I did really like about this book was the complete upheaval of gender identities. Peregrine is a man cursed to take the place of a woman, skirts and all, and Saturday is a woman built like a man. He takes the place of Leila and Saturday takes the place of Jack. I thought it was a great aspect to integrate into the story.

I had a so-so reaction to Enchanted, Hero's predecessor that I was also troubled by the romance in, but I thought to give Ms. Kontis another try. I think I may prefer Enchanted a bit more, but Hero was really cute and I liked it a lot!

- Ellie at Raven and Writing Desk Reviews

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