Ashley Hawthorne thinks of herself as the Cuckoo Girl. No matter where she is it feels like she doesn’t quite belong.
Everything changes when her eccentric aunt, Elspeth Grimm, leaves her the key to a safety deposit box in a bank that was destroyed during the Blitz. That box contains the first part of her true inheritance: an umbrella, a battered old notebook, a pair of aviator’s goggles and a locket. Each of these gifts is a unique part of who she really is.
Elspeth is a Grimm, a descendent of the brothers who purged this world of monsters by trapping them within the Concord. She is the Oracle. A keeper of all the knowledge we have amassed about the creatures of the Fae and other worlds. And someone intent on destroying the Concord has murdered her!
When Ashley looks through the goggles that night she sees curious creatures on the roof of the house across the street watching her. To the naked eye they look like crows but they are not. It is the first glimpse of the other place—the place where she will finally belong.
The journal is crammed full of things, but there’s no actual writing in it. Ash decides she’s going to use the book as a journal, and begins the first entry: My name is Ashley Hawthorne. The ink fades so she writes it again. My name is Ashley Hawthorne. Again the ink fades. She tries again and again until the ink scratches out an entirely different first line: That is not who you are!
3 Out Of 5 Stars
Genre:Another-World, Faeries, Royal-Court, Supernatural, Werewolves--
Ashley tries to be a normal 15 year old girl, but something just does not feel right. She has wealth and lacks for nothing, but still does not fit in. Blackwater Blaze, the alpha of the Wolven pack, has come through the gate between the worlds to hunt down the traitor. When he is attacked, he realizes his mission is more complicated than it first seemed. Ashley and Blaze’s paths cross, causing dire consequences.
This book felt like Harry Potter meets The Never Ending Story, with some awkwardness thrown in. There was a child surrounded by people who knew who she was but kept it a secret from her, until she was thrown right into the secret with no idea what was happening. There was another world that the characters can cross into with bizarre interesting landscapes as well as tons of creatures such as fae, wolven (who are like huge werewolves that are always wolfed out) tiny pixy creatures, huge trapped rock men, and scary faceless slime men who cause the loss of hope. There was one battle after another, full of death and horror, all for the chance to save the princess of a magical kingdom.
I have had a hard time determining if I liked this book or not. It had a rocky start, taking about 50 pages to actually peak my interest and make me slightly invested in the characters because I felt weighed down by rambling descriptions of old England, or some piece of history I know nothing about. I was also surprised by how much the 15 year old character knew about history and the Blitz (which I take to mean the actions associated with WWII). I most certainly did not know the level of detail she did at that age, so it was a little bit of a character disassociation for me of what a 15 year old girl is really like. Once I became interested in the book, something incredible awkward would happen in the plot that made me feel uncomfortable and I would check out of the book, taking a few pages for me to check back into the story. I will explain the awkwardness in a minute.
Ashley was a 15 year old girl who at times was so innocent and naïve that I wanted to wrap her in bubble wrap to protect her. She would go on long random tangents, connecting strange things together that nobody else would see, like the fact “she is not a cat”, which endeared her to me. I can completely relate to the odd associations. But then this sweet sheltered girl would do strange things, like bathe naked in a lake while a wolven watches her, and she is aware he is watching and she shows herself to him because she likes how it makes her feel. Yeah…this was SUPER AWKWARD for me the reader since that was not at all how she had been described for most of the book. And let’s talk about said Wolven love interest, Blackwater Blaze. He eats people. Like no joke, when he is peckish, somebody gets consumed. And Ashley sees him eat somebody, someone she liked and was helping her, right in front of her, and she feels lust for him the next day. I understand feeling trust and forging a bond with someone who saves you, but that does not mean you want them sexually. Ewww. Also, Blaze can smell her desire for him on multiple occasions, which is icky too when this is a young adult book. And he smells when some girl is on her period which makes him want to literally eat her. These things turned me off from the story completely. If this was an adult science fiction book, whatever, but since this is a young adult story, with a very young sheltered girl, I was not happy with the turn of events. If Blaze had stayed as her protector, one of many, and not been a love interest and I would have been much happier with the story. These uncomfortable scenes made me feel icky and took the book out of the young adult category. And yes I mentioned it was kind of like Harry Potter content wiseish, but the thing with the HP books was that Harry evolved and grew as the series went on, not in the middle of the first book and then revert back to innocence a moment later, just to be sexual again. Without the sexual references, the book would have been a solid 4 stars, but with the details my feelings are an iffy 3 stars.
My favorite part of the story was the side characters. There was a motley crew of people all working together to protect Ashley, be it the Juggler, the dwarf, the bus driver, the human mother or the Mere, all with unique personalities and depth that you would not necessarily expect while having this many side characters. They were described so detailed that I could see them and I felt like I knew them as individual people. The sleeper agent was just about the scariest thing ever, reminding me a lot of a mix between the Silence from Dr. Who and the dementors from HP.
I am conflicted over the book. Some things I loved, like the basic plot and fantastical characters, but other things completely ruined the story for me. I may suggest this for an older reader who likes fantasy books about kids.
I received this title from the author in exchange for my honest review.