Thursday, March 12, 2015

Review: The Storyspinner

The Storyspinner
By Becky Wallace
Published: March 3, 2015

Drama and danger abound in this fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected.

In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure.

The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.

With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything.

My review:

Johanna Von Arlo has grown up believing that she is just a storyspinner and the daughter of a talented tightrope walker and singer. She has no idea what secrets her father kept or why anyone would want her dead. After tragedy strikes and her family is thrown out of their troupe, Johanna is offered the job of a lifetime to perform at the home of a duke, Lord Rafael DeSilva.  Unfortunately this only puts her in greater danger. There are those who believe that the lost princess is alive and that it might be her.

Jacaré is a Keeper and High Captain of the Guard. He strikes out on an unauthorized mission with his sister and friends to find the lost princess and bring her back to Donovan's Wall, which needs the princess's power to maintain the barrier between worlds. It is a race against time as the princess's enemies are also trying to track her down and killing those that look like her. 

Sometimes a book doesn't live up to its description or to the expectations the reader has when they pick it up. Thankfully that is not the case in The Storyspinner where the story more than exceeds my expectations and the cover copy doesn't quite do it justice.

When I read a fantasy novel, I am looking for particular things: a setting that captures my attention, excellent world building, characters I care about, intrigue, a little romance and magic. The Storyspinner delivered on all of these elements.

The Storyspinner has great world building with the seemingly ordinary Medieval-like setting combined with the magical details from the Keepers and their world of Olinda though we only see it briefly. There is a lot of political intrigue with the rivalries between the dukes and the secrets surrounding the death of the King and supposed death of the princess. 

The book is told through multiple viewpoints from the perspective of Johanna, Rafael, Jacaré, his sister Pira and Leão, a young Keeper. In a way this helps to both move the action of the story and to help readers get to know the cast of characters better though five is a lot of view points. I would have liked it more if it was written through just the eyes of Johanna, Rafael and Jacaré. 

Johanna and Rafael are both strong but flawed protagonists. Johanna in particular is stubborn and she initially refuses to believe she is in any danger despite Rafael's warnings. Rafael has had to adapt to becoming a duke after the death of his father and he feels like he isn't worthy to fill those shoes yet. Both characters have burdens thrust on them. Johanna has to look after her younger siblings and help provide for her family since her mother is inebriated most of the time.  I liked how both characters grew during the book. Their relationship gets off to a rocky start but it gradually develops into respect and then romantic interest though there are lots of stumbling blocks.

The secondary characters, the Keepers, are very interesting. They have magical abilities and in Santarem, the nonmagical world where Johanna and Rafael live, they are revered as gods who once walked the earth many years ago. The people of Santarem would get quite a shock if they found out that the Keepers were still around north of the Wall.  The dynamics between Jacaré, Pira, and Leão reminded me of the relationships between the Arrow, his sister Thea and Roy from the TV show Arrow for some reason. I had thought that I would be impatient to get back to the parts of the story about Johanna and Rafael but I really liked the Keepers and wanted to find out more about them and their secrets. There are also some really creepy villains with a secret agenda that I think we've only seen a little of in this book. 

Overall I thought this was a fantastic debut. I like the way it has a historical feel and it reminded me favorably of books like The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Falling Kingdoms, The Kiss of Deception and  Grave Mercy. It is one of my favorites of the year so far. If you like YA fantasy with a historical feel, intrigue and some romance, give The Storyspinner a try. I am looking forward to finding out what happens next!

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss


  1. I'm so glad you reviewed this book, because I have been sooooo curious about it. You had me at its comparison to Girl of Fire and Thorns as well as Grave Mercy…loved both of those books! I will definitely have to add this to my TBR list. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  2. I'd probably have overlooked this one if not for your review. It actually sounds right up my alley, I love YA fantasy, excellent world building is a must and I really enjoyed The Girl of Fire and Thorns and I love Arrow ;)


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