Review: Wolfborn

May 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm (3 stars, Australian, review) (, , , , , , , , )

Wolfborn by Sue Bursztynski

ISBN: 9781864718256

Publisher: Woolshed Press

Date Released: December 1st, 2010

Genre: YA / paranormal / werewolves

Source: library

Premise:

Break the curse or howl forever.

Etienne, son of a lord in the kingdom of Armorique, goes to train as a knight with Geraint of Lucanne. Geraint is brave and kind, a good teacher and master – but he has a secret that he has kept from his family. He is bisclavret, a born werewolf. When Geraint is betrayed, Etienne must ally with the local wise-woman and her daughter, themselves bisclavret, to save his lord. But time is running out. If Geraint’s enemies have their way, Geraint will soon be trapped in his wolf form.

And Etienne has his own secret. The decisions he makes will change his life forever . . .

Inspired by a medieval romance, this engaging novel forces us to question everything we thought we knew about werewolves. (Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from:  Amazon (Kindle Only)

So, it turns out that this book is based on an old tale. And I’m sure all you faithful readers (what little I have) know by now how much I lve retellings. This alone bumps up the score for this book, even before reading it.

First up, the writing. There are some awkwardly phrased sentences, for example:

“An older woman named Lise ran the kitchens efficiently, as she had to in a place with so many mouths to feed.” -pg 6

“The sky was a pale gold colour, like those gold was backgrounds the Notzrian [fictional religion] priests put into their illuminated holy manuscripts.” – pg 189.

The second half of the first sentence feels awkward and unnecessary. The second sentence made me go”what?” several times. I mean, it’s not like I actually know what colour they mean since I can hardly compare it. The entire book is filled with similar awkward lines like that, that may have needed another pair of eyes to read over.
I can’t say that I’m a fan of the writing. Awkward phrasing aside, the writing seems to lack any unique voice and sounds rather plain. Though, despite that, it was easy to read and didn’t drag on like I expected it to.

Another issue with the writing was that there were a lot of exclamation points. Far too many to have been allowed.

There was a lot of mention of these fictional countries, but it was hard to keep track of them without a map. They ended up feeling like random words that had little meaning. It made for a disappointing read.

Now, whilst the writing wasn’t Bursztynski’s strongest point, the story triumphed with the magnificent world-building and lore. I love love LOVED the werewolf lore that Bursztynski crafter, where a wolf can only return to human form with his own clothes, and that by removing their clothes, they remove their humanness and are able to transform. It was so unique, and I found it to be amazing.

The story is the strongest thing about this book, and it is  actually quite fantastic. The story is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It has fairies, werewolves and magic, romance and political plots. Everything about the story was gripping, and I was up all night trying to finish the book. I literally couldn’t put it down because I just wanted to keep myself immersed within such a fantastical world.

Sadly, I can’t say the same about the characters. I felt very little voice and connection towards the narrator, Etienne, and his relationships witht the characters fell short. The romance between him and Jeanne did nothing for me, and it seemed fairly non-existant.

Oftentimes, Etienne would tell us something along the lines of “If I had known what would happen, I would have done this to prevent it.” For example, he says:

“If I had known then what would happen, I’d have lit a fire and cremated him!” – pg 117

Not only is it sloppy, it distracts the reader. I can understand that it’s a way to keep the reader hooked, sort of like a cliff-hanger, but it feels like a cheap shot. Readers should be hooked because of the story, characters or writing, not because of cliffhangers in the middle of each chapters.

If you want a good story, with a well-developed background and lore, then this is for you.

Cover Art: 4
Plot: 4
Characters: 2
Writing: 2
Level of Interest: 4

Total Rating: 3/5 stars

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