Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Blythewood by Carol Goodman

 (Somehow I forgot to post this review on here after I put it on Goodreads. Anyway, here it is.)
She tilted her head, looking at me. “That’s one bit about Blythewood you’ll have to get used to-- all the bells. They can drive you mad sometimes. They say there was a girl a few years back who fell from the belfry while trying to muffle the bells.” Then she smiled and hurried away, leaving me with the thought that the bells inside my head were already driving me mad.
Although not amazing, this book was quite good, and enjoyable. At no point did it get boring, but there were a few times where I did get annoyed with the main character. The writing, although pleasant and understandable was woven together with imagery and period words and sayings, which sometimes fit and sometimes didn’t. 

Blythewood is set in 1911, to which there is no mention of in the book. It takes place between two significant events in history, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, and the sinking of the Titanic. I think incorporating the two events added to the intrigue of the story, and it made it that much more interesting. Despite being unaware that the fire was real at first, I was able to guess the time in which the story took place, because of certain words and phrases used. However, some of these phrases seemed out of place, at times. It seemed like some of them were thrown in simply to remind the reader of the time period, even though it wasn’t difficult to forget. Instead, they were unnecessary and sometimes comical, especially when used in dialogue.

From the start, we are bombarded with bird imagery. Anything and everything is compared to birds, specifically crows. This ‘rings true’ through the rest of the book, although luckily the amount of it subsides a bit once the main character, Avaline, arrives at the boarding school, Blythewood. Along with the unnerving amount of bird imagery, there is also an overabundance of bells. From the bell that Ava hears ringing in her head, to the story of the seven bells from which Blythewood was founded. While both are highly significant to the story, they are both way overused, which became quite annoying at times.

Ava’s character was overall okay. She could be brave and kind-hearted at times, but other times she became impulsive and illogical in her thinking. She so easily would start putting herself down if something went wrong, constantly calling herself a freak, despite the gift she had. She also seemed quite a bit paranoid in her way of thinking. However, she was still a decent, believable character. Also, she often thought of her old life and referred to her friends at the Triangle Factory, which was nice, rather than having her forget about it.

The other characters were okay, as well. You could see them progress and change through the story, ever so slightly, but in a natural way; Helen, Daisy and Nathan, especially. Raven was the stereotypical protector guy, who, although pleasant, didn’t have much of a personality at first. The insta-love between himself and Ava was expected and predictable, but luckily the entire story was not solely focussed on that.

The story started off kind of iffy for me. Although the fire was exciting, what came before and after it was a little bit bland. If the book had continued at that pace, I wouldn’t have liked it so much. But, then the fairies and magics were introduced. The initiation in the woods was not very believable, nor was the girls’s quick acceptance of this new information. However, after that, the whole story became so much better. I am very fond of fairies and other creatures, and this book did a wonderful job at incorporating them. The classes the girls went to were really neat, and the entire atmosphere of the boarding school was perfect. 

Although some of the major events in the story were predictable, it was still a fun read. I enjoyed learning about Ava and her friends, and the Darklings and fairies. I was even more intrigued by the fact that I know where the story takes place in real life. It did have quite a few flaws that I couldn’t get over, but it was an entertaining story, with a cool atmosphere to it. The ending, although predictable, could have ended on a higher note. It only would have added to the excitement for the sequel, if we were able to see Ava’s new discovery, instead of just being told about it. Though I originally bought this book because of its gorgeous cover, I was very surprised to find it exciting and well-written. I look forward to the release of the sequel.

“There are other ways to disappear here than to go missing in the woods.”

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