Such a beautiful cover and a promising story. First of all, let me say that the copy I read was an uncorrected ARC, which made it a little hard to get into at first because there were some places where editing was needed. You all know how off-putting bad editing is to me, but I tried to put it aside because I knew this was an uncorrected copy, and therefore the edits hadn't actually been done yet.
Despite my issues with editing, I actually really got into the story. I found myself loving and rooting for the characters and wanting to know how everything would turn out.
Elsbeth (or just Beth) is a woman who lives in medieval times. She is in her twenties and unmarried, which makes her practically an old maid of course. Her parents were killed in a terrible fire some years ago which left Elsbeth with disfiguring burns on her forearms. She's come to define herself by what she perceives is the ugliness of those scars and has given up all hope that any man will ever want her.
Then a knight comes back to the castle. One she was sweet on as a girls, but who never returned her affections. At the same time, a shadowy vigilante known only as the Shadow, who dispenses justice for the king, also shows up and draws Elsbeth into his plans to expose a plot against Elsbeth's fair cousin, Jenna.
Thus begins quite the adventure. First time author Elsie Park deftly weaves the threads of the story, coming up with surprise twists near the end but perfectly planning the tapestry so that when all the pieces are finally shown, we as the readers experience a deep sense of satisfaction. I found myself reading anxiously to see how everything would turn out.
Park does use a lot of dialect from the time period, which is a bit jarring at first, but by the second or third chapter, I didn't even notice it anymore. She also includes lyrics to several songs which are beautifully written. I seem to remember hearing that some sheet music may be included in the final book, which I think is a beautiful addition to the story.
I was so impressed with this debut. So much fun to read, and a great example of clean, exciting, medieval fiction.
What are you reading this week?