by C. Aubrey Hall
First book in The Faelin Chronicles
Twins Diello and Cynthe are rapidly approaching their thirteenth birthday, when a big fair will come to town. Their fairy mother happily prepares for the big day, but their human father ends their plans with the announcement that they'll have to work in the fields on their birthday. The children are disappointed, but distracted by the manifestation of Diello's “special gift” to see visions. When the children sneak off to town to visit the fair anyway, tragedy strikes the family farm and they return to find everything destroyed. Orphaned, hunted by goblins, and ostracized by humans suspicious of half-fae children, Diello and Cynthe decide that they must find a way to reach Embarthi, land of the fairies.
The book reads like it's written for upper elementary/early middle school, but the darker themes of the story make it seem more in tune with young adult novels.
It took a long time for this story to get moving. It begins with a lot of whining as the twins realize they will have to work on their birthday. Who wants to read that? After the sluggish beginning, the sudden onslaught of action was startling, but at least the pace picked up.
I liked the incorporation of fairy lore into this fantasy world. The children do have certain fairy-like characteristics, like an aversion to iron, but they aren't mythical, wonderful creatures. They're pretty normal kids, with flaws and weaknesses like any other. In fact, I liked that the fairies were so reviled by the regular men and women. It was a nice twist on the usual “fairies are magical and beautiful and perfect” schtick you find in fantasy books.
I never cared much for the two main characters. Diello is really the star here, as the story is told from his point of view. In the beginning, he was quite childish, but we do see him grow up over the course of the novel as he gains maturity and control over his new found powers. His sister Cynthe seems a little two-dimensional by comparison; she always seems to be arguing with him or rushing off to do something without thinking it through. I wonder if I would have liked the story more if I could have read it from her perspective – maybe she wouldn't have come off as such a shrew and Diello wouldn't always seem to be playing the holier-than-thou card on his sister.
There was something that happened rather late in the book that made the two twin characters completely unlikeable to me. They are made to ride in a wagon with a group of young convicts and slaves, and one of the boys, a dirty little kid named Scree, takes an instant liking to them. Both Diello and Cynthe insult, ignore, and treat Scree like mud because he's half-goblin; they even allow the kid to be beaten near to death by their enemies after he follows them. This after they have been dumped on by practically every human being they encounter for being half-breeds themselves! Their complete lack of empathy and cruelty to Scree seemed unforgivable when they, more than anyone, should know how unfair that behavior is. Even though Scree is stinky and perhaps a bit dull-witted, he deserved better.
I don't really recommend this one. It's not a terrible fantasy novel, and the writing is decent, but I just didn't care for the characters at all.
2 out of 5 stars
To read more about Crystal Bones, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.
Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: Fashionista Piranha on hiatus until May 24th...
2011: In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant
2010: O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell
2009: Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter by R. J. Anderson