Book Blub: In the ancient and mystical land of Muirwood, Lia has known only a life of servitude. Labeled a “wretched,” an outcast unwanted and unworthy of respect, Lia is forbidden to realize her dream to read or write. All but doomed, her days are spent toiling away as a kitchen slave under the charge of the Aldermaston, the Abbey’s watchful overseer. But when an injured squire named Colvin is abandoned at the kitchen’s doorstep, an opportunity arises. The nefarious Sheriff Almaguer soon starts a manhunt for Colvin, and Lia conspires to hide Colvin and change her fate. In the midst of a land torn by a treacherous war between a ruthless king and a rebel army, Lia finds herself on an ominous journey that will push her to wonder if her own hidden magic is enough to set things right. At once captivating, mysterious, and magic-infused, The Wretched of Muirwood takes the classic fantasy adventure and paints it with a story instantly epic, and yet, all its own.
Rating: Three Stars – Recommended
Similar Authors: Terry Goodkind, Brandon Sanderson, Kristen Britain
Review: This story centers on what I would consider your more typical orphan character in the fantasy genre. There are hints that she might be more than she seems which is also pretty standard, but what I enjoyed about this character is that she’s up front about her dreams and her selfish desires. This wasn’t a story about a young orphan looking to sacrifice herself for God and country, but rather about a thirteen-year-old girl driven to improve her lot in life. Her dream of learning to read is one that is near and dear to my heart, so I whole-heartedly approved of her priorities from page one.
The side characters were not great, and for the most part there was very little character development outside of the main character. That said, I enjoyed the interplay between the main character, Lia, and her friends. Her general attitude toward the others seemed authentic for a thirteen year old.
The magic system was interesting. The idea of a living magic source that guides its users is not exactly ground breaking, but it was curious the way that it unfolded for Lia as it paralleled the role of faith in other fantasy novels. Rather than call it faith, though, it is dealt with as the absence of doubt, which was a telling choice for the author. I’m hoping we will see more of the actual system as opposed to the dogma in the next books.
The action in this story kept me reading, and once it really got going I found myself needing to know what would happen next. Quick page turning is the main thing I’m looking for when I read this kind of fantasy. Yes, I figured out the plot pretty early on, but it didn’t detract from the action to the point that I didn’t want to finish the book. With a quick pace and an interesting main character, I was pretty happy with this book. I will definitely be adding the sequels to my TBR pile.