If one were to look at my checklist of things I love in a book, this one would hit quite a few of them. One of the characters has gone through something traumatic and is trying to overcome it, there’s magic, there’s action, there's animal interaction, and there’s nifty creatures. It’s basically about a small group that sets out to learn what is amiss at The Hall. It’s got a questy-type vibe to it, which I generally enjoy. So what went wrong?
I find that if I’m skimming a lot, there’s something that’s just not speaking to me. Unfortunately, that can be hard to pinpoint sometimes. For this book, I think it was an accumulation of things that ended up making this a run-of-the-mill story. Nothing stood out to boost this up in my rating. It was readable, but because of my pickiness, I just didn’t move past indifferent.
The major reason didn’t become apparent immediately. It slowly revealed itself over the first three chapters. It boiled down to either too much description for things I didn’t care at all about, or there’s too much summary where things could have been much more interactive. I felt like I was being told stuff way too often. Instead of giving me a conversation in dialog, there were several instances where the conversation was summarized as he said this, they all agreed, and then she said this and then he commented about that and so on. It continually pulled me out of the story. Because I was never grounded, the characters came across as forced. When you read a book at a distance, I think you notice things that you probably wouldn’t have if you had been entranced. Odd dialog can be digested without thought, whereas when you’re not invested, it becomes stilted.
I think—and obviously based on some of the reviews—that what bothered me will in no way bother some other readers. I am, self-admittedly, a finicky reader with a strong distastes for tiny details in descriptions. I don’t mind them occasionally, and sometimes they can really add to a story, but most of the time I’m just ready for things to move along. Especially early on in a book or series. If I can’t get invested enough in the characters, everything will stand out to me. Furthermore, summaries that draw out for paragraphs that have no impact on the story will yank me right out of my reading trance. So for those who can enjoy a story just for the story and not need to be crazy obsessed with characters, you’ll likely enjoy this book. For those character driven readers like me, I highly suggest reading the sample as far as you can.
So overall, this isn’t for everybody, but it has an interesting story idea and some fun creatures and fights. And it has a dog in the group, which I loved right off the bat. That interaction was done brilliantly.