The humans were not allowed to know the true magic of this world. If they were to experience the world’s true magic, they may damage or even destroy it. It was therefore decided: the magic must remain hidden from the humans… forever.
Eight-year-old Grace Darling lives in the small village of Witern Wood. She and her best friend Christian have had many adventures within the woods but have never once come across the ancient gate that lies concealed behind a large holly bush – the entrance into Liberty, a magical land, where everything is currently not as it should be. An evil force is lurking, depleting Liberty of all that is good. The malevolent Nomeds feed frequently and with each meal they become more formidable. The noble Zavier, leader – or ‘Berthold’ – of Maytime Meadow is tasked with the collection of the rest of the realm’s Berthold. These leaders must gather in front of the Great Prophet, who has foreseen a way in which the Nomeds may be defeated.
Zavier selects some of his herd and the small and chirpy Chester to accompany him on a magical and treacherous journey across Liberty. The group face many challenges, a race against time and an increasing threat from the evil Nomeds. Will they make it in time… and what exactly has been prophesied?
I’m going to start with this statement: This book took me WAY too long to finish. Honestly, about 2 months. It was only 180 pages in epub format. Yes, I did read other books in between but honestly, The Hereos of Olympus took me three days, for three books. And those books are like 500 pages a piece. Why did this book take me so long? I think it’s time for a list.
First, let me tell you what I didn’t particularly like:
1.The Number of Characters
Alright, so the book started off with 5-6 characters, then the number started going up, higher, and higher, and higher. By the end of the book I couldn’t remember who was who, what species of mammal (or… not mammal) they were, and argh. It was just confusing. There’s the herd of Halfses, a bunch of Nomeds, some rabbits, badgers, 6-7 Bertholds, some fairies, a number of birds, a mouse, I think there was a dolphin and maybe a turtle, and a bunch of water warriors that I just remembered existed. It was impossible to keep track of every character in the book, as many had the same kind of formal voice. I remember like 6 of the 100 I was introduced to throughout the book, and that really isn’t a good sign. Either the author needs to pay a little less attention to ALL the characters, and focus on maybe 10, or she needs to find a way to give every character a voice, because by the end of the book, I could just hear a collective mumble (save for Grace’s voice).
2. The Repetition
I know this is a Middle Grade novel, but that doesn’t mean I have to lower my expectations. There are a number of Middle Grade books that I’d be down to read, even now at the age of 19 (Magyk by Angie Sage, Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan), but this just wasn’t one of them. I found that the repetition in both the narrative and the dialogue was author’s way of dumbing down the novel and little bit. You do not have to repeat “The Great Prophet” 5 times in one paragraph. I’m not going to forget him within 30 words. Something that happened throughout the book would be that one person, or the narrator, would explain something and then another person would repeat it:
“We were under attack so we didn’t see if he retreated back to the swamp or… or… if he exited via the gate,” said Francis. “And worse still, when we arrived, the gate was already ajar; it is possible that other Nomeds may have escaped before we arrived.””OH NO! So Adramalech and possibly other Nomeds, too, may have gotten into the Human world!” Hazel cried.
Note that we already know where the gate goes at this point. Note that I typed that exactly as it shows up in the book. Yes, the ellipses are indeed there, as are the capitalized words. But that’s a different point. While I liked the repetition of names, I felt like the repetition of the plot and story was too much. It took up too much of the book, and honestly wasn’t necessary. “Oh, but Alicia, you may be able to understand it, but what about the children.” Honestly? Even as a kid, I understood Magyk fine, and half of that book is spelt wrong on purpose. I don’t know if this whole repetition thing was intentional or not, but as a kid, I still would have been annoyed at this book.
3. The Ellipses and Capitalization
I admit, I use ellipses a lot. Granted, that habit’s gotten better (now I excessively use the word “so” and “anyways”). I know I also use capitalization a lot too (as you might have noticed at the beginning of my review). However, when you do that in books, I just feel like the book is lacking something. You shouldn’t need to capitalize something to make the dialogue or narrative sound more intense. I should get that from the writing, the description, etc. You also shouldn’t need to use an excessive amount of ellipses to add suspense (hesitations alright, I guess, as long as it’s not excessive). Unfortunately, the author used this method of writing throughout the novel and lost a little bit of credibility with me as a reader as the book when on. Two examples of this:
“NOOOO!” cried Zavier.
“It was therefore decided: the magic MUST remain hidden from the Humans… FOREVER!
I think I should add “excessive use of exclamation marks” to the list too (though they didn’t bother me as much as everything else did). Back to the point. As you can see, it’s just doesn’t work that well. It makes the book sound silly, and the suspense she seems to be trying to aim for ends up falling flat on its face.
4. Over Explanation
Going hand in hand with repetition, it was just so much telling and very little showing:
Brinsop, the chief dragonfly, was a good friend of Zavier’s. He knew him very well and he had sensed the urgency and panic in his voice.
You don’t really need to go that far with the explanation. If they’re good friends, then of course they’d know each other well. LIKE.
5. The Lack of Consistency
There are these magical creatures that guide us throughout the book, one of which is name Zavier. If you didn’t see it in the synopsis up there (^^^) then I’ll give you a run down of what Zavier’s like. He’s the leader, the head of one section of this animal realm called Liberty. He is very formal and supposedly has a very strong presence amongst the animals and generally, this is how he speaks, generally:
“…If any of you are willing to embark on such a journey and face its many dangers with me, then put yourselves forward now.”
And this is what he said that bothered me later:
“Oh my God! Yes, I think it is and it’s still alive!”
Um, don’t get too excited. You kind of sound like a 15 year old girl now.
I’m sorry, some of these phrases throughout the book just didn’t fit and threw me off. Are these people formal, not formal? I mean, somewhere in the book they used the word “dude” and while the character might have been young, it just didn’t fit at all into the story. And when Grace’s grandparents said “fancy dress party” that bothered me too. These are older people. They would say “party” or “get together”. It just didn’t fit and UGH -flails-
Now for the things I did like:
1. The Human World
Every time they flashed to Grace’s world, life was good. Aside from the grandparents saying “fancy dress party,” these parts was pretty consistent. I really liked Grace’s character. She was adorable, as were her pets, and just her behaviour in general was cute. I loved this part because everything flowed well, and there wasn’t anything that really bothered me during these parts. I loved learning about her family and the relationship she had with those around her. As mentioned in the novel, she had a kind of innocence about her that was enduring and sweet. It was these parts that really helped me get through the book.
2. The Nomeds
Despite the author’s supposed attempt to dumb down the novel a bit, she didn’t cut down on the horror-ish parts throughout the novel. I loved these parts because of the action and the intensity of the moments. Some parts honestly freaked me out a little and I liked that it wasn’t censored for any middle grade readers. They also are an interesting force. In all honestly, I think the whole good over bad thing works really well in this book, almost as if the Nomeds are the bad within human kind, while everyone is the good, and the bad, in both their world and theirs, in taking over. Maybe I’m over thinking this, or maybe I’m thinking that maybe this is a message to kids to do what we haven’t: find the good, find the innocence in mankind and make something of it.
3. The Plot
While it kind of dragged on, I felt that the plot, overall, was really interesting and the concepts that Faerydae puts on the table are really interesting. It really gets me thinking, as a teenager, basically adult, and I really wonder how kids will look at this (if any kids actually will). I’d love to see what they’d think of the book when it comes down to it.
4. World Building
While I really couldn’t appreciate the names of each part of Liberty, I really loved how Faerydae created the world of Liberty. From her descriptions, I could picture a world without humans, a world in which animals of all kinds flourish and co-exist. It’s amazing how well the author put together the world of Liberty. Even the Human World, in which Grace lived, I found was created well.
-End of compliments and rants-
Overall, I really liked the ideas that Faerydae had. However, I wish Faerydae’d done a better job of putting them together and executing the story that they wanted to tell. I think the part that was hardest to get past was the writing within the story. Hopefully that can be polished in the next book. Aside from that (though it was a fairly large obstacle for me to get over, as a reader), the story was captivating enough to keep me reading. Note that I do have a high tolerance, and a great amount of determination when it comes to finishing books. This one, I almost quit on multiple occasions. While it was hard, I did liked the story and the world that was created. All in all, I hope that the next book is better than this one, at least writing wise.
World Building: 5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.83/5
eBook copy received from Troubador Publishing Ltd via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.