Review: The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Storyspinner by Becky WallaceThe Storyspinner by Becky Wallace
Series: The Keepers' Chronicles #1
Published by Margaret K. McElderry on March 3, 2015
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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four-stars

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.

Once again, I picked up a book for the cover. All that drew me to this book was the word “story” in the title and the fact that it looks like it might be about a lady Robin Hood. Spoiler: it is not about a lady Robin Hood. However, despite that, I’m glad that I cheated a bit and read The Storyspinner, because I really liked it. The Storyspinner starts off a new fantasy series with a cool setting, delightful cast of characters, and some truly awesome magic.

In the first pages, I was enraptured by the concept of storyspinning. It’s storytelling, only more vibrant, adding in the use of illustrations drawn in dust thrown into the air. How do they manage to draw pictures in floating dust? I can’t tell you, but come on it’s a fantasy and that’s so cool. Basically, I picture it like this, only drawn vertically and accompanied by words.

The book opens with Johanna’s happy family. They’re all performers. Her father’s best known as an acrobat, her mother for singing, Johanna for storysinging, and her three brothers are heading for careers as acrobats too. Setting the tone for the coming story, the novel opens with pain. A happy family in fantasy basically necessitates death. Womp womp. The Storyspinner starts out as pretty badass fantasy and continues on in that vein. If you like your fantasy dark, get excited.

There are five POV characters in The Storyspinners: Johanna, Jacaré, Rafi, Leão, and Pira. I will warn you that the narrative jumps around a lot. The individual chapters don’t tend to last too long and a number are just two pages. Since the narrative is in third person limited, though, there’s no issue keeping the characters straight. I actually really liked all the different POV characters and found them pretty close to equally interesting, so this worked really well for me. Not only that, but there are a lot of very strong female characters in The Storyspinners, which is something I keep an eye out for in fantasy.

The plot follows relatively familiar lines in this first volume. There’s a missing princess, whose identity probably will not surprise you, and an incredibly evil bad guy. There wasn’t too much that really caught me off guard. That said, I think it’s all done well and I was really into the story at all points. I’ll definitely hope for increased complexities in motivations and such as the series continues, but I think The Storyspinners is a great start.

Plus, the ships are off to glorious starts. There are two and I ship them both very hard. You know me. I’m basically sold at this point. One of them is hate to love and the other one is definitely against the will of the two people having serious lustful feelings for one another. There are a couple of great kiss scenes too. I NEED MORE OF THIS.

What I’m really torn on is the world building. I love the concept of the Keepers’ essencia and their elemental powers. I’m pretty much always on board for that. The setting appears to be in some fantasy version of South America; it’s either mostly or entirely set in Brazil. I can’t say for sure, though, because I find some of the world building really confusing. The best example is in the character names. They’re mostly Portuguese, but then there are a handful of English names thrown in, like Johanna’s family. Maybe her family came from elsewhere originally, but that does not explain Dominic, part of the De Silva family. He’s part of the nobility and most definitely local, but his name is Dominic, not Domingo. I do not understand this. [Update: apparently Dominic is a name used in Brazil. I learn something new all the time. I still don’t know where all the English names came from though.]

The Storyspinners is a captivating fantasy debut and I can tell you right now that I will be reading book two when it comes out in eight million years. Maybe reading it so early wasn’t such a brilliant idea after all.

Favorite Quote:

“Well, pinch my arse and call me cheeky”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif game of thrones conceal don't feel
Because Pira is totally a young Brienne and because everyone’s trying to hide their feelings.

7 responses to “Review: The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace”

  1. I was curious about this book and was just expecting a review to decide to pick it up or not, thanks.

    And about the names, Domingo isn’t actually a commun name on Brazil (I lived most of my life there) it’s more popular on countries with Spanish origins, on the other hand Dominic is used a lot (mostly wrote in a different way, like Dominique and variations). Also Leão and Jacaré aren’t commun names, they’re just like… Words, no one name their kids after animals (but maybe their names have something to do with their characters? Idk).
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    • *I MEAN COMMON the two times #dying
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Oooh, you have insight. This is helpful. I am by no means an expert on Spanish/Portuguese.

      Okay, so the De Silvas live in Santiago, which I know is in Chile, but where people go, I’m not sure that them being in Chile makes sense. Dominic’s brother is Rafael. So I was sort of torn on Spanish versus Portuguese for what happened in that Dukedom.

      Leão and Jacaré are actually explained. They’re keepers (not a spoiler) and they were named after animals. I’m not sure why, but that is referenced in the text.

  2. Meg says:

    Even though you’ve been talking about this for awhile, I still kind of thought it was going to be a little bit about a lady Robin Hood.

    Storyspinning sounds like the coolest thing ever and oh look, another thing to add to my list of super powers I wish I had (http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m4g1hav4sp1qma2qx.gif)

    “Setting the tone for the coming story, the novel opens with pain.” <— ooh, goody

    "A happy family in fantasy basically necessitates death." <— tragically accurate

    "If you like your fantasy dark, get excited." <— I AM VERY EXCITED HOW DID YOU KNOW

    Yesssssss multiple shifting POV that works!

    Overall, very excited. Also, fun fact, I typed out this comment this morning and forgot to hit submit. I am excellent at things.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      You are excellent at making me smile. That is what you are.

      Also, I want all the super powers. And to see a storyspinner.

  3. Soma Rostam says:

    Well, this is definitely interesting 🙂
    I love the cover too
    GREAT review,
    Your reader,
    Soma R.
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  4. I’ve had this on my radar for months, even preordered it! A little cover lust and a lot interested in the story. I’m glad it holds up even if the world building isn’t all there! The name thing is definitely suspect. But I love dark fantasy, love multiple POVs, and love multiple ships!! Sounds like a Morgan book 🙂

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