The Storyspinner (The Keepers' Chronicles #1)
by Becky Wallace
March 3rd 2015
by Margaret K. McElderry
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.
I am so very ashamed of myself to admit that I judged this book by it's cover. I thought "oh no here comes another Katniss wanna be with a bow and arrow." Yawn. Then, I did the smart thing and read the blurb and it offered me a fantasy realm with magical warriors and court politics! At this point I began
obsessively stalking requesting this on Edelweiss. After 5 denials and some shameless begging I finally got approved for this and literally did back flips (well not literally but my in my mind I did). It is such an amazing feeling when a book you are over the moon already for manages to exceed your expectations. The Storyspinner blew me out of the water!
The story follows Johanna and her family who are a troupe of traveling performers. That's right acrobatics and tight ropes, even singing, but this family has an even more specialized skill. It is called Storyspinning, the art of telling a story while using glamour & cues from the audience to make everyone fall under it's spell. I loved that there was a fresh set of skills given to this family. So often they are thieves or something that has been many time before. Sure, it does end up being a book about a lost princess but Johanna and her family have so much talent beyond that. I found it to be a nice niche.
The plot picks up with Johanna's father, Arlo, falling during an act to his demise. This sets off a chain of events that are told as two separate story lines until they culminate & finally pick up as one plot. For those of you who have read A Song Of Ice and Fire, it was very reminiscent of that type of sequence for me. Things happened very often at the same time just in different parts of the world. Wallace also had this really unique way of tying the plot lines together with subsequent context clues. The pacing was a bit slower than usual but that was for the simple fact that there was so many P.O.V's to put into place (hence my being reminded of ASOIaF). The ground work was promperly laid for each and everyone of them too. I would happy to follow any of them had Becky decided to write them out separetly. The narration was done beautifully in the 3rd person and it gave me the background I needed to become truly invested in each of the characters. This sold the book since I wasn't to thrilled with the world itself. I know the history was there and it was shown more as time went on but, it took a good 1/3 of the book before I really got a grasp on it. I also found the names to be over complicated & a bit of a distraction but that is just a personal preference.
The book had a bit more court politics then your average fantasy novel. I really enjoyed seeing how the different Dukes on the one hand were represented. The other story line held the magic. For years the magical race known as the Keepers has stayed away from the rest of the world, silently guarding the magic that binds the borders. Now with the Guardian, Arlo, dead they must find the lost heir and return her to her razed kingdom so the power can be balanced once more. I found the Keepers to an interesting race, each has an affinity for a different element with the exception of the Mages who could control all 5 of them at once. The way these 2 different groups of individuals views their world was interesting to say the least.
I can't recommend this one enough to all fantasy lovers. It might be the same lost princess story yet it is told in such a different light the whole things feels fresh. I loved every second of it and already have pre-ordered my finished copy!