About The Author:
“Allyse Near lives in Melbourne, Australia. She studied creative writing at Deakin University and, while there, won the inaugural Judith Rodriguez Prize for Fiction. Several of her short stories have been published in literary journals. Allyse writes deconstructed pulp-fables that almost always revolve women, the wilderness and witchcraft. Her inspirations include the occult, the bizarre, the macabre, history, classic folktales, half-remembered dreams, Wonderlands and ghost stories.”
“There’s a dead girl in a birdcage in the woods. That’s not unusual. Isola Wilde sees a lot of strange things other people don’t. But when the girl appears at Isola’s window, her every word a threat, Isola needs help. Her real life friends – Grape, James and new boy Edgar – make her forget for a while. And her brother-princes – magical creatures seemly lifted from the pages of the French fairytales Isola idolises – will protect her with all the fierce love that they possess. It may not be enough. Isola needs to uncover the truth behind the dead girl’s demise… before the ghost steals Isola’s last breath.”
Things I Liked
- Description: Allyse Near has this fascinating and unique way of describing things and people. Allyse Near paints a vibrant and surrealist picture in her narrative.
- The Characters: Isola, Grape, Edgar and The Brother-Princes were all vibrant, three-dimensional and enjoyable to readable. I liked the concept and the explanation of Brother-Princes, I loved reading how all the Brother-Princes met and how they all came to swear their fealty to Isola. However if I had to pick a favourite it would be a tie between Ruslana and Bunny.
- Complex themes: There are so many different themes and narrative objectives in the novel all vying for attention, but they are handled excellently. I have rarely read a Young Adult novel with a mental illness theme that did not leave a bad taste in the mouth. Allyse Near just nailed it.
- Narrative Structure: Its different from a lot of novels, let alone novels in the YA category. I liked it because it gave those complex scenes that extra bit of clarification. I also loved how Allyse Near takes the traditional mono-myth The Hero’s Journey and then completely subverts it. Let’s just say that it will screw with your head, but in a good way.
Things I Did Not Like
- Slow Plot: Takes a while to get into the main plot of the dead girl, but the narrative is strong enough to still keep the reader intrigued.
- Narrative Structure: I understand that the novel is from the perspective of adolescent young lady dealing with some issues, but the narrative is all over the place.
- Off-screen Villainy: The reader isn’t shown the dead girl doing all the terrible things. Isola discovers all the dead animals in the morning and I couldn’t help but think maybe it was her mother that was killing all the birds instead.
- Lots of Sub-plots: There was a lot of stuff going on in this novel. If this is just a stand-alone novel, I would have edited more out of this novel, however if this is going to become a serial I would have saved them for the next book.
All in all, this is an amazing novel and even though I had difficulties with it, the final pay-off at the end is well and truly worth it. 5 Stars out of 5
Book Supplied by Collins Booksellers – Bacchus Marsh