Review: The House of Four Winds

The House of the Four Winds (One Dozen Daughters, #1)Title: The House of the Four Winds
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Genre: fantasy

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:
The rulers of tiny, impoverished Swansgaard have twelve daughters and one son. While the prince’s future is assured, his twelve sisters must find their own fortunes.
Disguising herself as Clarence, a sailor, Princess Clarice intends to work her way to the New World. When the crew rebels, Clarice/Clarence, an expert with rapier and dagger, sides with the handsome navigator, Dominick, and kills the cruel captain.
Dominick leads the now-outlawed crew in search of treasure in the secret pirate haven known as The House of Four Winds. They encounter the sorceress Shamal, who claims Dominick for her own—but Clarice has fallen hard for Dominick and won’t give him up without a fight.
Full of swashbuckling adventure, buoyant magic, and irrepressible charm, The House of the Four Winds is a lighthearted fantasy romp by a pair of bestselling writers.

This book sounded like so much fun - a cross-dressing pirate who is actually a princess! Think of the possibilities! - but it ended up being really tedious and boring. I think I missed the memo on this being a soppy romance novel (even though it's practically staring me in the face with that book description. time I'll actually read more than the first two sentences).

My main problem with this book was that it couldn't decide who its audience was. Most of the time it read like a children's book. To be clear, I don't mean YA. It's more middle-grade or even a straight up children's book. But then the author would decide to make the book seem older and throw in a few big words and a dash of blood and guts. I just couldn't wrap my mind around who this book was intended for, because it seemed like a juvenile story masquerading as adult fantasy.

I felt like the dialogue was very forced and clipped. Do people really talk like that? Do pirates really talk like that? The writing was similarly full of odd phrases, which was distracting to say the least. I also thought there was a lot of wasted potential for humor here. Sure, there are some sticky situations where Clarence/Clarice has to think on her feet, but there were hardly any scenes that made use of her secretly being a girl. Everyone just believed that she was a guy, and no one ever even came close to questioning her or finding out about it until she decided to tell people. Unrealistic? Very much so.

My final complaint is that the book's main antagonist came in too late to be considered a real threat, and the solution to everyone's problems was far too neat.

I wouldn't recommend this book - there are plenty of better pirate books, fantasy books, and pirate-fantasy books.

*A free copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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