I love it when I find an author I really love because it makes picking out new books that much easier, I know if I pick up a book by a certain author I will probably very much enjoy it. One of those authors is Gail Carson Levine. Her retelling of Cinderella in Ella Enchanted is still one of my favorite books ever, and the Princess Tales are a book I get for every child I know and I have enjoyed her other books. So you will understand a couple of years ago when she came out with a new book called Ever, I tried to wait until it came out in paperback, but was too impatient and happily brought my new book home.
The basic premise is pretty intresting. A girl Kezi who loves to dance and is a weaver in the city of Hyte (which seems to be a Mediterranean type of place) catches the eye of Olus the god of wind. Olus is part of a pantheon of Akkan gods and comes to know and love Kezi. This troubles Kezi for many reasons, one of which she was raised to only believe in the god Admat as the only one god. The other part of this story is how Kezi's father in a desperate attempt to save his wife makes a bargain with Admat that he will make a sacrifice of the first person to offer well wishes after his wife is well again. Kezi's mother recovers and the first person to walk in the door is Kezi's aunt who had helped save her life as a young child. To prevent her aunt from becoming the sacrifice Kezi speaks the words that will make her the sacrifice in place of her aunt. After all this goes down the family gets 30 days with Kezi until they have to take her to the temple
and...well...kill her. At first I thought it was a metaphorical sacrifice, like give her up to the temple to work or become a priestess or something, but nope they mean a literal sacrifice of her life. Olus tries to find a way to save her and decides that the best way will be to make her immortal so that not only will she not be killed, but she can stay with him forever. Kezi then goes on a strange quest/journey/test to become worthy of immortality. Eventually she seems to gain it, but the final test is when she is sacrificed by her father and has to pretend to be dead to fulfill the oath. After all of this she and Olus live happily ever after, never able to speak to her family or loved ones again.
I know this synopsis seems a little simplistic, but I felt that the book was a little simple and slow. The story is told in alternating first-person switching between Kezi and Olus. Sometimes the text gets a little confusing, seeming to skip parts, or double back to the same place. I felt the characters were pretty flat with no real development (although Olus did have a few good lines) and I really wanted to know much more about the culture, religions and people in this book. It was a very straight forward insta-love story with no real basis for eternal love other than it was convenient for the author. I also found it disturbing how easily Kezi's father was willing to
A Tale of Two Castles was actually quite entertaining and much more in the vein of writing I am used to seeing from her. Overall the simple writing, the insta-love, the weird twisty journey that did not seem to fit the rest of the book made me not so huge a fan of this book. I would give it 2 out of 5 beaded scarves.
What did you think of this book? Did you love it or hate it? Have you ever been disappointed by a favorite author before? What do you think of human sacrifice in young adult novels?