Title: The Storyspinner
Author: Becky Wallace
Genre: Fantasy, YA
My rating: 4 of 5 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.
Really good! Why did it end so soon?
I enjoyed the Storyspinner a lot more than I was expecting. I'd heard a lot of great things about it, but nothing in the blurb made me go "Wow, I really need to read this!" I'm glad I decided to read anyway, because this was awesome!
The Storyspinner is a lighter story than most epic fantasy. There aren't any vast battles or any dense worldbuilding; the fantasy world is basically just like a historical version of own except for the fact that there are a few magical people. There's also a standard "secret past" which isn't too hard to anticipate, but it's still rewarding to see everything play out.
But just because it's lighter on some fronts does NOT mean this book is all sunshine and roses. Given the first half of the story, I wasn't expecting how intense the second half was at all. Bad things actually do happen to beloved characters, unlike most YA novels (which was upsetting when it happened, obviously, but definitely made the book better!).
I really liked how Joanna actually had a relationship with her family. Usually main characters are long-lost or abandoned someone-or-others/chosen ones without a family, so I absolutely loved how Joanna would look after and tease her brothers. I also liked getting to know Rafi and Dom. I guess I'm just a sucker for sibling rivalry!
I also really enjoyed the Keeper subplot. It kept the story intense and helped push me through the slower first half to get to the intense end. I adored all the Keepers and their very unique personalities/approaches to doing their job!
Also, most of the characters have names/titles derived from Portuguese. HOW COOL IS THAT? The only other book I've read with a Portuguese flavor is Orson SCott Card's Speaker for the Dead, so I loved seeing that here too!