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TECHNICALLY, I'm not on tour until Saturday,
when I review ALL THAT BURNS.
Buuuuuuuuuut I'd never read ALL THAT GLOWS before,
so I decided to review it today and give my lovely fellow bookworms the chance to enter the giveaway a little early!
Ryan Graudin is doing a preorder special through her local indie Blue Bicycle Books.
You can pre-order a signed copy of ALL THAT BURNS and get a free ALL THAT BURNS tea (a ginger plum flavored black tea). Don’t miss this special offer!
Click here to pre-order a signed copy of ALL THAT BURNS!
(They'll probably also let you order a signed copy of ALL THAT GLOWS, but double-check! You won't get the special tea, but you WILL get a signed book!)
ALL THAT GLOWS by Ryan Graudin has always both intrigued and repelled me. I love books with kingdoms, especially when the princess falls for her knight/bodyguard/etc. Graudin reverses that with a prince and a female bodyguard. How cool is that!? I instantly wanted to read it. And then I found out that the bodyguard was fae. I really don't read books about the fae, so this made the book drop down my TBR list. After meeting the author at BEA last year and reading her newest novel THE WALLED CITY, I was ready to take a risk and try out her fae series!
(So as you go into today's review, I won't be focusing on what may or may not be a cliche in fae novels because...I have no clue about such things!)
The Faery Guard has always protected the royal blood of London and preserved the line. After Emrys gets bored and loses a Kelpie in a loch, Queen Mag reassigns her to something likelier to keep her on her toes: guarding heir to the throne Prince Richard. Richard, however, is a wild child. He's always getting drunk in bars and making scenes, and protecting him isn't all it's cracked up to be. To make matters worse, Emrys' magic is beginning to fail, because Richard can somehow sense her presence--and he isn't supposed to know about his fae guards. When his father is assassinated, leading to an early rise to the throne, the stakes get even more dangerous. Ancient magic is working to bring down the royal blood, and the entire royal family is in danger. Guarding the prince just got much harder, especially as Emrys begins losing her head to foreign emotions and begins caring for the prince.
The fae are neither good nor bad in ALL THAT GLOWS, but a mixture of both. I find that when I do encounter fairies in fiction, they're one or the other, but there's a much more gray road in this novel. Speaking of mythical beings, I also appreciated seeing different types of fantastical creatures in ALL THAT GLOWS such as green ladies, banshees and dark dogs, all of which are working together to bring about the end of civilization. I liked the subtle messages of how humans are destroying the planet. It's not preachy and doesn't focus on pollution, but rather, on technology. Humans are beginning to worship technology above all else and overly rely on multiple little gadgets to do the work for them. This technology is killing the fae and making them sick. I really like the way this aspect is woven into the story.
Graudin has a unique, interesting way of phrasing things when she writes that's present in both of the books I've read so far from her. There are a lot of metaphors at play, and while the way sentences stack don't always work, they can also be quite beautiful. Sentences such as,
"Some mortals have spirits that are stronger than others. Souls they haven't yet grown into. They have potential, great potential...but until they learn how to harness it, they're all chaos."
(~page 44, US ARC Edition)
"As the words leave her lips, the mirage of supple flesh melts away. Beauty becomes a beast, peels back into vein-riddled, charred parchment skin."
(~page 160, US ARC Edition)
"In the past few days, a monarch has risen from the ashes of his fear."
(~page 381, US ARC Edition)
I also really like the way the stereotypes are flipped upside down. We're dealing with princes and female bodyguards. I love that a female is the one with the important task of protecting royalty. What a great flip! Emrys has a good head on her shoulders, too. She's been alive so long that she knew King Arthur. She's a trusted member of the fae and Queen Mab seeks her help and opinion. At the same time...she's willing to give all of that up too easily. ALL THAT GLOWS has a severe case of insta-love when it comes to the romance aspects of the novel. Emrys doesn't know what she's feeling at first and doesn't even consider it to be love because she's never experienced anything like this before, but it's there. She finds herself getting emotional, caring about the lives of royals, becoming invested in their protection and therefore causing danger to herself. Richard is one of those princes who has an outwardly lazy demeanor, but a lot going on beneath the surface that he keeps hidden. Emrys is able to bring it out of him and help him to mature as he is forced to step into his new role as king. Their love is forbidden, and both must make sacrifices if they wish to be together, which I think will be explored more in ALL THAT BURNS, as well as further character development as Richard starts stepping into his destiny and stops partying so much.
While this book doesn't have me running to buy every novel about the fae in existence, it does make me curious to see how the sequel will play out since ALL THAT GLOWS read as a stand-alone. There are enough loose ends to create something new, however. ALL THAT GLOWS had both pros and cons as I read it, but I'm excited to see a lot of these elements get deeper in the upcoming companion novel ALL THAT BURNS. I think that, now that we have our world and our characters have their various motivations, there will be a lot more character growth and fleshing out of elements I would have liked to see more of.
Read the first 82 pages RIGHT NOW!!!!
My writing has since improved, though my obsession with wolves has remained relatively the same (I even own a wolf-hybrid pup.) My childhood was a happy, sunny thing. I grew up on a steady diet of fairytales, salt-marshes, music and brothers who would re-enact Redwall battles with me in the back yard. I went to an artsy sort of high-school that allowed cello recitals in the hallways and impromptu poetry slams in the cafeteria. It was there I decided that writing was what I wanted to do more than anything.
I'm officially a grownup now (I suppose one must admit that once they turn 26). My diet still includes fairytales, salt-marshes and art, but there are a few new loves thrown in. A big one is travel. Pieces of my heart are scattered like breadcrumbs all over the globe--I've bartered them off for writing inspiration, so I suppose it's a fair trade.
When I'm not cramming my earthly belongings into a backpack and waiting in airport security lines, I'm doing one of the following: Writing YA novels, Photographing weddings with my husband, Making our little white cottage more homey, Playing with my wolf pup, Trying out Korean récipes, Haunting local coffee shops with my friends.
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