Thursday, August 02, 2012

ARC Review: The Grass King's concubine by Kari Sperring

The Particulars: Fantasy, DAW, available in print and as e-book
The Source: ARC from the author
The Grade: B
The Blurb:

Kari Sperring's first novel was a finalist for the Crawford Award, a Tiptree Award Honor Book, a "LOCUS "Recommended First Novel, and the winner of the Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer. Now she returns to the same amazing and atmospheric world with an entirely new story set several hundred years after the earth-shaking events of "Living With Ghosts."
When a wealthy young woman, obsessed with a childhood vision of a magical Shining Palace, sets out with her true love to search for a legendary land, she discovers the devastated WorldBelow - the realm of the Grass King - and the terrifying Cadre, who take her prisoner, and demand she either restore the king's concubine... or replace her.

The Review:

The first time I heard about this book was when Kari Sperring read from it at Eurocon in 2011. I have waited for it to be released ever since. Did it live up to my expectations? Yes.

The setting felt believable. In fact, at times it felt like I was reading a historical fantasy. Because while the Brass City is imagined,it reflects the uncertainities of life   in the mid 1800's in European Cities. But it wasn't just that. It was the clear contrasts between the wealthy in the Silver City and the poor in the Brass City, and how that affected the relationship between the cities.

But if the Worldabove was believable, then Worldbelow was chilling. That was enhanced by seeing how the World Below looked in it's hey day.

The plot wasn't fast paced, but it was well paced. The story switched between past and present, between World Below and World Above. It should have been confusing, but it wasn't. The main reason for that was because it was easy to follow the characters logic. Well, maybe except for the Cadre.

The characters felt unique. I admired Aude for her mix of curiosity and pragmatism. Which showed in a lot of ways through the story. And then there were the twins... I think this is the first time that I have read a ferret's POV. I felt for Jehan as he chased after Aude.

The only problem I had with this book was the budding romance between Aude and Jehan.   I felt that it was buried behind Aude's search for her family's history, and it wouldn't have hurt if it was a little bit stronger. 

(Just a tip to DAW: If you write a blurb for a book, use ALL of it online. Not a third.)


Anonymous said...

Nice review, makes me even more eager to read it.
One tiny correction, Kari read at
Eurocon in 2011.

Mikaela said...

Ah thank you. For pointing that out. It felt like it had been longer than that.


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