Drama and danger abound in this “intricately woven” (Shannon Messenger, author of the Sky Fall series) fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected.
In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure.
The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.
With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything.
About the Author
Becky Wallace grew up in house full of stories with people who loved them. Her parents, both school teachers, only took her books away when it was very late at night—and usually pretended not to notice when she read by flashlight. She wrote and directed her first princess-related play in sixth grade, started her first “romance” novel in seventh, and penned a binder full of bad poetry in high school. She’s very grateful all those manuscripts have been lost. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Public Relations and worked in minor league baseball as a journalist and in sports marketing. She was lucky enough to find and marry a real-life prince charming. They have four little munchkins and are living out their own happily-ever-after in Houston, Texas.
Read an Excerpt
Johanna could feel it. The fear, the haste, the pebbles sliding under her feet, the hiss of arrows as they sliced through the air.
She could see the dark clouds kissing the gray stone of the Citadel, hear the clash of steel and the cries of the dying. Blood and desperation hung thick in the air.
Every word her father murmured—his voice pitched low to match the intensity of the tale—rang with images, sounds, and pictures. Some people told stories, but her father played every audience on taut strings, strumming their senses and plucking at their emotions. People would travel for days to hear one of his specially created works of art, to be entranced by his voice and the not-quite-magical powders he employed to illustrate each tale.
The story of “The Thief and the Great Tree” was his personal specialty, but he didn’t tell it often.
Johanna leaned forward, memorizing every pitch and cadence, waiting for the moment when he’d reach into one of the hidden pockets of his cloak for the handful of powder stored there. Even knowing it was coming, even watching carefully, she missed the trick.
A cloud of fine brown dust filled the air between them, seeming to appear out of nowhere. His hands danced in the smoke, shaping the ephemeral mist into a great tree.
“Fool,” a voice like a rockslide thundered from above. Twigs cracked as they spread wide, weaving and twining to form a cage that trapped the Thief from neck to knees. “Who are you to break the pact?”
Her father’s hands twirled across the dust. A gnarled face materialized in the tree’s trunk.
Its eyes reflected and magnified the scattered starlight, glaring pure malevolence at its captive, he said, and Johanna mouthed along.
The Tree’s breath, icy as the last days of autumn, brushed the Thief’s skin and made him tremble.
“P-please,” the Thief stuttered. “I only ventured onto the sacred mount to save the—”
Footfalls sliding on the shale and loose gravel drew the Tree’s attention. “More oathbreakers!”
“Let me go!” begged the Thief as he struggled against the Tree’s wooden embrace. “I only crossed onto the mountain to save King Wilhelm’s greatest treasure.”
There was a moment of stillness, of awful silence, when the Thief knew the Tree weighed the truth of the words. The Thief held his breath, waiting to be crushed in the Tree’s grip. He heard nothing save the clank of armor as his pursuers drew nearer.
Then the Great Tree’s topmost branches bent parallel to the ground, as if a sudden gale had forced them forward. The Thief realized it was a nod.
“Take the treasure and run.” The cage disappeared, re-forming into a second hand, which lifted the Thief to his feet. “Run!” the Tree shouted.
The Thief sprinted away, only looking back to see if the mountain was tumbling down behind him. It wasn’t. The Tree drew its roots out of the ground, pulverizing stone as it yanked tentacles out of the rock. They wound together, becoming giant legs that straddled the path. The Tree snatched the nearest soldier, and with a wet twist, the man became two halves.
The Tree roared—
“Arlo!” The tent snapped open as Johanna’s mother stepped into the enclosed space, the train of her emerald gown dragging behind her. “You have to be on the high wire in less than ten minutes.”
Johanna rocked back on her heels, her heart still pounding from the power of her father’s tale.
“Marin, my love.” He offered his wife the grin that endeared him to every audience. “I was just giving our daughter a few tips that will improve her Storyspinning.”
“Not now, Arlo!” She hurried to her husband’s side, whisking the Storyspinner’s cloak from his shoulders to reveal the tight-fitting acrobat’s costume beneath. “Stories can wait for tomorrow. Paying crowds wait for nothing!”
Marin’s words sounded sharp, but Johanna knew they were said with love. Her parents hissed at each other like mad cats before every show, but it was all preperformance anxiety.
A good audience had the heady effect of strong champagne, making the Performers drunk on applause and accord. Once their routines were over and they received their ovation, her parents couldn’t remember what they had argued over.
“She needed a refresher on some of the finer details—”
“Oh please!” Johanna rolled her eyes. “I’d steal your listeners now if you’d let me take the stage.”
Marin couldn’t restrain a grin in her daughter’s direction. They always stood together as a team to tease Arlo or cajole him to their way of thinking.
“I’m afraid she’s right, my dear,” Marin said with a click of her tongue. “Johanna’s learned every bit of your trade and has a much prettier face.”
Arlo spluttered with mock affront, and was ignored as his wife stripped off the outer layer of her gown and turned it inside out.
A voice bellowed from outside their red-and-white dressing tent, calling Marin to her next position—a vocal performance on one of the smaller stages. She pulled a clip out of her hair. Her ash-blond curls fell free and completed the transformation for her next act.
“Don’t let him be late!” she cautioned Johanna with a quick hug. “And check on your brothers. They were watching the acrobats warm up.”
“Of course, Mama.” Johanna pecked her mother’s powdered cheek. “Sing the birds out of the trees.”
“Always.” Marin disappeared through the tent flaps and didn’t look back.
Johanna turned, expecting some witty remark or quick joke at her mother’s expense, but a troubled look marred her father’s face.
“Papa,” she asked, instantly concerned. “What’s wrong? Is your back bothering you? I can get the jar of liniment. . . .” Her voice trailed off when she realized that he couldn’t hear her. He’d disappeared into a memory; and, from the slump of his shoulders, it wasn’t a pleasant one.
Arlo shook himself out of his daze and straightened his spine, but the ghostly thoughts traced hard lines about his mouth.
“Johanna, you remember the rest of the story, don’t you?” His voice was deep and husky, his eyes intense.
“Of course. The Thief travels along the mountains till finally crossing back into Santarem, carrying King Wilhelm’s treasure the entire way. He promises to guard it for the rest of his life, never using it for his own gain.”
Her father nodded along, his face still serious. “Good. It’s an important story. One you should take to heart.”
“I know, I know. It teaches bravery and honor—”
“It’s more than that, cara.” He called her by her pet name. “It’s a true story.”
Johanna put her hands on her hips and adopted the glare her mother wore when her father was being ridiculous. With brown hair instead of blond and gray eyes instead of blue, Johanna didn’t resemble her mother, but she could imitate Marin perfectly. “You believe someone survived the massacre? That’s impossible. The troops killed everyone and burned everything.”
Their travels from Performers’ Camp took them past the ruins of Roraima several times every year. She remembered the tumbledown walls of the former capital. The charred skeletons of homes and businesses reached through the ground, bones rising from the graveyard Roraima had become. Above it all was the Citadel, the once-proud castle of their deceased king, cowering like some terrified animal at the foot of the Keepers’ Mountains.
Few people ventured into the ruins, claiming that evil things lurked in the shadow of the Citadel’s walls, and that the stench of death lingered—even fifteen years after the city’s destruction.
“And yet, someone did survive,” her father insisted. “How else would we have the story?”
Johanna opened her mouth to counter, but a Performer shouted for Arlo to get to his position. The grim seriousness dropped away from her father’s countenance in less time than it took his cloak to hit the floor.
“We’ll talk about it more later.” He brushed her cheek with a quick kiss and bounded out of the tent with his typical grace. “Don’t go into the crowd alone and don’t let the boys get into mischief!”
“Then you should wish me luck!” she yelled as the flap fell, and heard her father laugh in response.
Her younger brothers, Joshua and Michael, weren’t typically naughty, but a Performers’ tent city was rife with opportunities for pranks and practical jokes—swapping the lids of the makeup containers or switching the pennants that flew over the performing area with several pairs of bloomers.
As she left the tent, she scanned the sky for purple underthings flapping in the wind. Her younger siblings hadn’t replaced the flags. Yet.
Performers costumed in a riot of colors, bangles, and patterns hurried through the temporary canvas town. Others warmed up soon-to-be-used voices, stretched well-trained muscles, or painted their lips red and outlined their eyes with dramatic black lines.
Johanna smiled at the familiarity of it all. These people, seemingly crazy and loud, were her family. Not all of them were blood relatives, though she had a handful of cousins and an uncle in the troupe, but they cared for each other like kin.
The acrobats were stacked three high, balancing on hands and shoulders. As she approached, her eldest brother, Thomas, climbed to the top of the teetering tower.
“Have you seen the boys?” she yelled as he placed his palms on another acrobat’s head. Thomas shifted his weight and pushed himself into a handstand.
“They were near the wagons,” he responded, pointing his toes to the sky.
The man on the bottom row shifted his feet. “When you coming back, Jo?”
Johanna ached to be back in the show, to hear the applause and her name shouted with adoration. An unfortunate incident with a flaming firesword had left her with a hideously short haircut and a nasty wound on her forearm. The injury didn’t bother her anymore, though the skin was tight and puckered.
“I’d come back today, if the Council would let me.” She threw a series of back handsprings to demonstrate how well she’d recovered.
“Good,” grunted the base of the tower. “You don’t fidget as much as Thomas!”
“Hey! I’m doing my best,” her brother muttered.
“Still . . .”
Their bickering and laughter was drowned out by a small explosion. Red sparks shot into the air, cartwheeling over the camp.
“Joshua! Michael!” the troupe’s Skylighter growled. The man was protective—and rightly so—of the volatile powders he used to paint the night sky with colorful bursts of flame. “When I catch you two, I swear I’ll . . .”
Before he finished his curse, Johanna was running toward the multihued wagons that divided the tent camp from the performing area. Performers were a secretive people by nature, keeping the tricks of their trade private, sharing only with family members and apprentices. They didn’t appreciate crowd members wandering through their camp and stealing the secrets that made their entertainment so valuable.
Johanna reached the boundary in time to see two blond heads disappear into the mass of people. She hesitated, remembering her father’s warning not to go into the crowd alone, before plunging into the throng.
The entire township of Belem had turned out for the performances. Their duke, also known as Belem, hired a performing troupe to entertain his people at least twice each year. The peasants, dressed in their finery and drunk from a day of festival revelry, pressed close to the three raised stages trying to get a clearer view of the acrobats, Fireswords, and actors who entertained simultaneously.
I’ll never find them in this mess, she thought as she shoved her way through the onlookers.
Where would they have run to? Where would she have gone if she was still eleven or eight?
To watch Father perform, of course.
Some long-deceased Performer had built small platforms in the highest branches of the araucaria pines. Unlike their triangular relatives, the araucaria’s bristles grew in clumps at the top of the tree, giving an unobstructed view of the Performers high above the duke’s fine home. It was one of the few places where a fall from the high wire was truly dangerous.
She searched the crowd for her father’s crimson costume, hoping her brothers would be nearby. He stood at the base of the tree, deep in discussion with a person she couldn’t see around the fat trunk.
If it hadn’t been moments prior to his show, she wouldn’t have been surprised. Her father was always in negotiation with someone—nobles and peasants, merchants and fisherfolk, blacksmiths and bartenders—to schedule another show. And yet he usually spent the few moments before every show doing a mental rehearsal of his routine.
It must be an excellent fee for him to do business now, she thought with a grin.
The cannon boomed, signaling the beginning of the main attraction, and her father ascended the tree.
Johanna turned, scanning the crowd. She still had no idea where her brothers had disappeared to. Perhaps they had continued beyond the performing area toward the rocky beach that bordered Duke Belem’s property? Her stomach swirled with nerves as she imagined the boys splashing around in the choppy water. Both were strong swimmers, but even so . . .
The crowd bunched close, filling Johanna’s nose with the stench of perspiring bodies and the sickly-sweet scent of pink guava rum. A hand pinched her bottom, but she ignored it, moving along with the press and drawing nearer to the ocean with each step.
Then, like fish caught in a giant net, the entire audience stopped. Every head tilted skyward, focusing on the man standing on a web-thin thread strung across the horizon. He waved bravely before edging his way across the rope, seemingly nervous and tentative.
It was all a ploy. In a moment his arms would windmill; the audience would gasp both terrified and thrilled that they’d see this Performer fall to his death.
Ten steps and her father did exactly as she expected.
The man beside her muttered an oath under his breath, and Johanna bit her lip to keep a satisfied smirk from appearing on her face.
The audience was locked in the moment; no eye blinked; no one shuffled forward. Then the arm actions propelled her father into a series of somersaults.
An enormous cheer rose to the sky, completely blocking out the waves crashing on the beach nearby. The crowd didn’t mind that they’d been fooled. They loved the spectacle too much.
Her father finished his routine with a standing backflip and flourish. She couldn’t see his smile but could tell by the confidence in his wave that he was proud—as always—of his performance.
The audience applauded, then laughed when Arlo’s arms whipped through the air again, one shoulder dipping toward the rope.
Johanna didn’t laugh.
Her father rocked forward onto his toes, then back on his heels, throwing his hips out for balance. This wasn’t part of the act, and he never, ever deviated from his routine.
Something was wrong.
One foot lifted high off the rope, extending far to the side.
“No!” The scream wrenched from her throat. She tried to force her way forward, but the crowd was too tight, the bodies too close.
His other foot left the rope and he pinwheeled through the air, disappearing from view. The shrieks of delight turned to shrill cries of terror, all muffling the thud of his body as it smashed into the ground between groups of onlookers.
Weeks later when Johanna woke from sweat-soaked nightmares, she was very grateful her brothers had disobeyed that night and gone to play on the beach.
No child should ever have to watch their father die.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
An absolutely amazing YA read, filled with magic, thrills, secrets, and sweet romance, The Storyspinner was a brilliant read. I LOVED this book! It was a beautifully written, fantastic YA tale of epic proportions and I loved every bit of it. The way the story was told was interesting. It was different, but it really worked for the book. Two separate story lines are told concurrently, until they converge near the end of the book. On one side was Johanna and Rafael and their lives in the human world, while the magic-wielding Keepers were on the other side, trying to find the lost princess to restore balance to their worlds. Meanwhile, the point of view shifted between each of the five main characters, plus a couple of scenes from another's perspective. Normally, I would find this annoying, but it was very well done in this book. The transition between characters flowed and I never got confused about whose head I was in. All of this worked really well for the book and, along with the beautiful prose, I thought it was all very well written. The main human characters (Johanna and Rafael) were both great. Johanna was strong, clever, and very protective of her brothers. I thought she was just lovely and I really liked her. Rafael seems cold and distant on the surface, but it doesn't take long to realize that he was a very honorable person who was extremely dedicated to his people and super sweet when he wanted to be. He was wonderful and I totally adored him. The romance with these two was so sweet. It progressed naturally, which I appreciated. They were perfect together. Though after a certain revelation near the end of the book, I wonder if (and how) their relationship will change. We'll see... The Keepers (there were three of them) were also great. Jacare was very honorable and determined to do what was best for everyone, in both worlds. Pira was strong and very independent, though she could sometimes cross the line into a shrew, acting rude and judgmental . Leao was very sweet. But, be careful not to underestimate him. He might seem naive and innocent, but he was also a force to be reckoned with. I thought all three of them were wonderful characters. There was a light romance between Pira and Leao. It developed slowly, due to Pira's bull-headedness, but I'm interested to see where their relationship goes. The plot was fast paced and I was totally hooked the entire way through. There were plenty of thrills to keep me on the edge of my seat, along with secrets and political games. And, the atmosphere of the characters' world really drew me in. I loved the story and the ending has me itching to get my hands on book 2. Can't wait to read it! The Storyspinner was a brilliant YA read. I absolutely LOVED this book! From the engaging characters and sweet romances, to the endless thrills, surprising secrets, and fantastic story, this book was amazing. YA lovers, this book is a must read. *I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Simply amazing, it had a marvelous plot, the characters were interesting. I most definitely recommend this book.
I wanted to like it more. This book had all the ingredients to make it a book that I should like: 1. Hidden Princess. 2.Secret magical people in a world where magic is thought dead. 3. Romance 4. Political drama and plotting 5. Fighting for a throne So everything was there, but I felt like it just did not come together as it should have. I felt kind of distant from the book and characters. It had it's moments when I felt drawn into the action and drama, but it was short and then I kind of went back to feeling like I was READING about events in the book...not actually LIVING them. Weird considering I am reading a book..but good books draw you in and make you feel like you are right there living the experience with the characters. There is the cliche, show don't tell. This applies here: The book was telling me it was good, but it wasn't showing me it was good. It was telling me about the feeling and emotions, and motivations f these characters....but it was not showing me. Even the romance...parts of it was handled well, the tension between the two characters was built nicely for a point, but then...it just all became just rushed together. What I think the main thing was, is that a lot of the plot felt rushed. If it was more tightly controlled..it would be great, all the ingredients are there. But there were points where I felt things were just tacked on..and no one went back to check that it made sense to what was said before. It might come down to style and preference, because someone I usually get recs from liked it a lot, me...it's a meh. Oh well.
One of the best things about being involved in the blogging community is the discovery of new books. I don't know that this one would have ever been on my radar, had I not seen people talking (and raving!) about it. I am really glad I picked this one up, because I do love fantasy and have been needing more of it in my life lately. This book is told from multiple point of views, which did take me a bit to adjust to. However, even with multiple voices, there are only two main storylines that the book follows. That made the adjustment much easier and it helped us get to know all the characters who will shape the future of this book. I really enjoyed both storylines too. I liked being with Johanna and Rafi, as I loved the tension between them and the fact that these two don't really like each other to start. I also loved being with the Keepers and learning more about the Wall and the history behind them and the people of Santarem. I really enjoyed Johanna's character. She is a Performer and works with her family. She can sing like her mom, but also storyspin like her dad. I loved the idea behind the Storyspinning. Storyspinners captivate their audiences with their tales and the illusions they create. Even with all that has come to light and the events that transpired at the end of the book, I do hope we continue to see Johanna storyspin in the forthcoming books. Jo is also fierce and strong and I liked that. She is dedicated to her family and will do what she must in order to protect and provide for them. This is how she meets Lord Rafael, or Rafi. He mistakes her for a male poacher and well... things don't go well for the two. I am a fan of the hate-love relationships, and I felt Jo and Rafi's worked really well. It takes a bit for them to warm up to one another, but I was in full on swoon mode once it got started. Rafi is a good guy, who genuinely wants what's best for his people. I admire him for that and when he realizes Johanna could be in danger, he finds himself wanting to protect her. I felt bad for Johanna, as she didn't want to feel things for this young lord, and when she felt he was unaffected by her performance, it really hurt her. Not only do I like Rafi and Johanna's burgeoning relationship, but I am also a fan of some of the other romances as well. Wallace has done a great job of bringing her characters to life and I like seeing romance play a role, even despite everything that is going on. I also really enjoyed trying to figure out who was behind the attacks on different girls throughout Santarem. I am excited to see how this particular storyline will be handled in the next book, as there is some intriguing history behind the mastermind and another in the book. The Storyspinner is a really fast paced story and I don't recall feeling any lulls or being bored at any given time. The Keepers are searching for the key that will prevent the Wall from weakening and becoming obsolete, Johanna is trying to ensure her family's survival after the tragic death of her father through her Performing, and Rafael must not only deal with the woman he feels he owes a debt of honor to, but he must also deal with the other Dukes from nearby lands, including one whose greed for power knows no bounds. I am really looking forward to the next book in the series and seeing how Wallace will continue to weave the two major plotlines together.
I devoured this book in one day and then went back and re-read my favorite parts! The world building, the lyrical prose, and the masterfully crafted characters brought this book to life for me.There is an authenticity in Becky’s voice, one that is both refreshing and seamless. THE STORYSPINNER is everything I could ever wish for in a YA fantasy and more. Now comes the wait for Book 2.
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace Book One of the Keepers' Chronicles Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books Publication Date: March 3, 2015 Rating: 4 stars Source: eARC from Edelweiss Summary (from Goodreads): Drama and danger abound in this fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected. In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure. The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren't the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna. With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything. What I Liked: I KNEW I WOULD LIKE THIS ONE! Granted, it's fantasy, it has all the makings of an "Alyssa" book, and many bloggers I trust really enjoyed this book. It's a pretty unique book, as far as fantasy goes, and I'm really intrigued! Johanna and her family have been exiled from the Performers camp, since her father fell to his death during a performance. Johanna becomes employed under Lord Rafael, future Duke of Santiago. They meet by chance; Johanna is hunting to feed her family, and Rafi thinks she is poaching (which is illegal). He accosts her, thinking that she is a poacher and a male. But she is neither, and Rafi is indebted to her (kind of, as punishment for harming her). So she performs (sings and tells stories) for the guests. Meanwhile, the Keepers are real, and they are looking for the lost princess. This was spurred on by the death of the guardian of a pendant of which the princess is the heir. Johanna has no idea about anything related to the dukedom, the Keepers, the magic that shouldn't exist, the lost princess, but she is involved more than she thinks she is. Johanna is a very likable protagonist - she is selfless and kind, fierce and loyal. She takes care of her two younger brothers, and her older brother, and her drunk mother. She was caught by Lord Rafael because she was trying to provide for her three growing brothers, her mother, and herself. Johanna is a very capable huntress, as well as sister, and Performer. She captives those she meets, those for whom she sings or tells stories. This book is written in third person, and we are not limited to Johanna's narrative. Rafi is a significant character whose perspective is shared, as well as several of the Keepers looking for the lost princess. Jacare is a Keeper who leads the other three Keepers. His half-sister, Pira, is a prickly Commander and soldier with an affinity for Earth. Leao is a Mage, strong in all five elements. Tex is an ancient Keeper, with plenty of wisdom and advice. Keepers have and wield magic, and most characters have an affinity for one of the four elements. Pira, for example, is extremely strong with Earth. Leao can control all of the elements (which is why he is a mage). Jacare and Tex are strong Keepers as well. These four Keepers spend this book trying to uncover the death of Johanna's father (though they do not know of Johanna, or that the man they are looking for is her father). Having so many different third-person narratives was really helpful, for me. I liked reading from different characters' perspectives. It was easier for me to understand and connect with them. For example, I probably would not have liked Jacare at all, if I didn't get to understand his motives and thinking. Same with Leao. I enjoyed the plot with the Keepers, but I really, really liked the plot with Johanna, and Rafi. Their interactions were much more interesting, and I loved seeing them fight. Literally and figuratively. They do not like each other at first, yet they're constantly saving each other. If there wasn't a romance budding between them, I'd be furious, because there is a lot of tension between them, and it has to go somewhere, in my opinion... So, the romance. It's very, very slow and subtle in this book. I say "slow" but it's not a bad thing. I loved the slow-burn progression of the romance. The two characters don't just bump heads and fall in love. They start off hating each other and keep getting on each other's nerves and even in the end, they're aggravating each other, but it's wonderful and passionate... yes. I love these types of relationships. Fire turned passionate. There is another romance in this story, between two different characters. Take a guess - it's two Keepers. Pira and Leao definitely do NOT start off liking each other. If anything, Pira has some serious contempt for Leao, and Leao is a bit intimidated by Pira. But their relationship is so sweet (and jealousy-filled, on Pira's side, because Leao is very good-looking and attracts a lot of girls). I know I haven't said too much about the story, but I'm doing that on purpose, and keeping the plot a bit vague. The synopsis does a pretty good job of summarizing the book, but there's nothing like reading the book yourself! And it's a bit complicated to explain (as with most fantasy novels). But seriously! I would recommend you read this one yourself! The ending isn't tragic or cliffhanger-y or crazy. Definitely a great first novel! What I Did Not Like: I know I said this one was pretty unique - and it is, with the Performers thing - but the lost princess thing is so cliche. I mean, I know, it's high fantasy, and they all start to sound the same, but the whole "lost royal" thing is a bit overdone. There are plenty of fabulously unique elements in this book, like the Performers, the forgotten Keepers, the sexy duke (hehe), but the lost princess trope is definitely not unique. Would I Recommend It: I really enjoyed this book! Fantasy is my favorite genre, and I read so much of it, and I love it, and I love this one. I would highly recommend this one to fantasy lovers - although I will say, if you're looking for a super heavy romance, you won't find that in this book (not that I thought that was a bad thing - I was a HUGE fan of the romance). Just a note! Rating: 4 stars. I'll definitely be reading the second book! It's too long a wait until then. More fantasy please! More Rafi and Johanna...
The Storyspinner was everything I thought it would be AND MORE! I have fallen in love with this author's prose, her descriptions (seriously, you will awed by the writing), the world-building, and of course, the characters. Johanna is such an authentic character: her confidence with her skill-set and protective instincts go so realistically with her inner challengers and outer struggles. I could go on and on about how real this world feels and how much I am drooling for the next book. I haven't felt this way about a YA Fantasy in a looooooong time. Well-done, Becky Wallace, well-done.
This first book in the Keeper's Chronicles does an excellent job of setting the scene for what promises to be an epic series riddled with mystery, intrigue, and romance. A page turning read lovers of fantasy will enjoy, I can't wait for the next book in the series to see what happens next!
The Keepers have been searching for the long-missing princess for years. They have used their magic and more traditional skills but the princess, long rumored dead, has proven elusive leaving room for rival dukes to compete and connive as they struggle to claim her throne for themselves. Johanna--a Performer left without a troupe after her father's grisly demise--thinks such matters are far above her station in life. Until murdered girls begin turning up across the kingdom bearing a striking resemblance to Johanna. Desperate to support her family and a victim of circumstance Johanna is soon forced to work with Lord Rafael DeSilva. Unfortunately for her, Rafi is boorish and insufferable. Not to mention he shares an equally low opinion of Johanna. When her path aligns with the hunt for the princess, Johanna finds herself at the center of a dangerous web of secrets that could cost Johanna her life in The Storyspinner (2015) by Becky Wallace. The Storyspinner is Wallace's debut novel and part of a duology that concludes in The Skylighter. This novel is written in close third person and alternates between seven points of view including Johanna and Rafi. This multitude of main characters allows Wallace to balance two narrative threads that eventually converge and maintain some surprise although transitions between chapters and characters are often abrupt. Making so many characters into "main" characters leaves little room to develop any of them. Instead of a multi-faceted ensemble cast, The Storyspinner feels like it is populated by one note characters including from the sage wielder of magic, the resentful sister trying to prove herself, and more. Wallace situates her fantasy in a fictional world that borrows heavily from Portuguese culture with language, food, and more. While this adds flair to the story, it seems out of place with an explanation for where these elements come from. The Storyspinner starts strong with an intriguing premise that fails to get very far before it is mired in an overly large cast of characters. Recommended for readers looking for a plot driven story that is light on the world building and heavy on the action. Possible Pairings: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows, The Keeper of the Mist by Rachel Neumeier, Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch, The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine, The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
IT WAS SO GOOD! I've seen quite a few reviews saying that is was ok, and I agree to a point that it isn't out of this world spectacular. The plot is one we've heard before, an infant princess is placed in the safe keeping of a ordinary family to protect her from enemies and when she is of age she is enlightened of her past after suffering the loss of the family and world she knew. However, while the essence of many stories are similar, the author has the chance to create a truly unique story of her own making. In The Storyspinner, I love the fact that Johanna is "adopted" by a family of acrobatic Performers. She is completely a part of this family, with no doubt of whether or not she belongs. She is as much a skilled acrobat as the rest of them. She's not little more than a slave, or a weak delicate creature in need of being saved; rather, she is a strong character who hates being reliant on others and has a family who love her. There is a hint of romance on part of two couples and it's nice but not, in anyway, the focus. I really enjoyed the fantasy aspect of magic, and being set in a sort of feudal/medieval time period gave it a nice touch. I believe there are more books in the series, so I definitely look forward to that.
Original Review Link: http://asdreamsaremade.com/2015/03/book-tuesday-the-storyspinner/ I’ve had this book on my TBR pile for a while now. In fact, when I first came across it, I tried buying it right away and couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get it anywhere–then I saw the release date–oops! Johanna is a performer who, after he father’s death, is shunned from the performer’s camp along with her family and falls into the employ of the young Lord Rafi. With a steady income she can finally help provide for her family. However, everything isn’t as well as it seems. There are a series of murders happening that are targeting young girls that match Johanna’s description and a major discovery sheds light on Johanna’s true identity. This was a great story. The characters were intriguing–and they have to be because there are a LOT of them! I didn’t realize going into this that the story was told from multiple POV’s so it threw me for a loop at first. I’m not a huge fan of changing POV’s because I always feel that you’re playing “catch up” with a character plot-wise. There was a bit of that at times which I wasn’t too keen on, but the plot kept it moving. There were two storylines happening with multiple characters narrating. You had the Keepers–Jacaré, Laeo, Pira, and Tex–and then what was happening with Johanna and Rafi. The POV’s change very quickly, but it tends to lend itself to the fast-paced plot. The characters are great–my favorite being Johanna, Pira and Rafi. I loved Johanna as a MC and she really holds her own against Rafi’s egotism–I loved it! Pira can be a bit stubborn, but you realize how dedicated she is to her mission and how much she cares for her brother Jacre. The romances were only really beginning in this installment. I feel like we were left just as they were starting to blossom. And the end! You’re seriously gonna leave it there?! Le sigh. Fine. Pick this one up if you want some fast-paced fantasty with great characters.
This book had all he right ingredients to make a capturing plot. 1. Lost princess. And the girl did not even now she was the princess. 2. Mystery. The people that were searching for hee had to find her through a small necklace/looking glass. You do not know if she is going to make it through alright or not.3. Suspense. Because tbis book i swritten on many of tje characters POV, if one chapter ended in a cliffhanger, you havr to wait to see what happens after the oter charcters chapter is done . Overall, it was a well written intriguing story. I admit, when my friend first rcommended this book to me, I was hesitant to read it. But now I know thag i was wrong to hesitate. Now all i have to do is what for the net book. I am positive that the next book will be as great as this book.
It usually takes me at least a couple chapters to really get into a book, but this one drew me in right from the start and kept me hooked thoughout. I didn't want to put the book down. I rarely give a book 5 stars, but I think this book definitely deserves it. I loved the relationships between Rafi and Johanna and Pira and Leao. I loved the other characters also, especially Dom. The only thing I didn't like was what happened in the end with Johanna's family. I can't wait for the sequel!
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was suspenseful and held my attention. The characters were interesting. Can't wait for the next book.