Title & Author: Tress, Larissa Brown
Genre & Publication Date: Fantasy, May 12, 2015
Book Description: “Ever since little Tess cut off her doll’s hands and painted them blood red, she’s longed to live in a gruesome fairytale. But when grown-up Tess can hardly tend her own wounds, how can she free a golden-haired woodsman from his curse?”
First Line: Tess sways with the night breeze, wet grass between her toes, remnants of old drinking songs at her back.
My Take: This book was provided to me by the author for review.
I was drawn to this story because the main character, Tess (not a typo, the MC’s name is Tess) has only one hand. It seems so often in Fantasy novels that every character is hale and whole, even when most of the settings are set in a medieval time period–and let’s face it, those poor wretches were probably riddled with disability.
In the story, Tess is still grappling psychologically with the loss of her hand. There’s a bit of confusion in the beginning as far as a sense of place. At first I thought it was in the renaissance era but then realized it was modern-day set in a renaissance theme camp of some sort. It’s best to make clear where and when the story takes place up front because readers start making assumptions unless you lead them in the right direction. I thought camp itself was a bit odd. If she’s having trouble coming to grips with what happened to her, why would her loved ones think it’s a stellar idea to send her to a retreat that removes her even farther from reality?
There were also sections that waxed a bit too long about Tess’ drawings and her remembrances of what she used to draw. I found those parts profoundly uninteresting. It would’ve been more compelling if they were shortened up and integrated into some greater tension. The scenes are flat as they are now and I found myself wanting to skim through them.
As the story progressed it took on a fairy tale feel, weaving the dreamlike experiences of a past life into her modern existence. This was very creative but I absolutely could not tap into the love connection between her and the woodsman (Andr) she saw in those experiences. Saying “And the years rush away” when their eyes met didn’t do it for me. That’s telling me rather than showing me, regardless of the poetic nature of the line. Also, most of the time the guy acted like a bastard but that apparently wasn’t enough to drive her away because he was so damned gorgeous she couldn’t help herself. I lost respect for her there. And not to start raving, but God save us from heroines that are too befuddled by good looks or besotted by romantic swoon to insist they be treated like women of worth. I honestly don’t care what his reasons were. Either you’re a gentleman, or you’re not.
I won’t share the ending, of course, but it left me rather unsatisfied and scratching my head as to what the heck I just read, what happened to Tess, and what it was all really about.
The Magical: The author did a good job of making me question whether Tess was going crazy or if the things she saw were really happening. I wish this set up would’ve been hinted at sooner though. Since it’s a Fantasy novel, I generally assume the fantastic things referenced are really happening. The shift in perception came in a bit late and added additional confusion to the read.
The Mundane: Abuse as romance. This is becoming a trend in books these days…
Summary of Thoughts: Currently the book is $0.99 for the Kindle. On the whole, I was rather disappointed in this one. It has great potential but there were several points of confusion that killed my investment in the story. The romance, which seemed to be central to the tale, failed to capture my imagination. Maybe it was Andr’s initial jackass attitude toward Tess, her lack of spunk in his presence, or the absence of banter/shared experiences between them, but I never felt the bond. Tess’ disability made her a compelling, sympathetic character, but sadly her personality was as bland as dry toast.
Many thanks to author Larissa Brown for providing a copy of the book to review.
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