Edit: I read a different version of this book, which had a much prettier and more original cover. The author seems to have erased that cover from existence, but any words of praise in this review for the cover are not for that silly thing up there. They are for the old one.
All right, so, I know this review is going to hurt the author when she reads it, so I want to say first: don't stop writing. You have potential in there, and if you work on it, I think you could come up with something spectacular. I did, however, promise to be honest in my review, so that's what I'm going to be.
I was given a free digital copy of this book by the author, in exchange for the following review.
I wanted so badly to love this book. Any time I see a faerie book that doesn't look like complete cheese, I practically hum with excitement and my fingers itch to start turning pages. So it was with this, especially with that gorgeous cover. Unfortunately, I really didn't care for it. Loosely, I'm going to explain why:
1) Calista's name. It's a very light, unusual, fae-sounding name. I really liked it, and when I realized that was the heroine's name, my hopes for the book skyrocketed.
2) The cover. It's absolutely stunning. It's difficult to read the author's name because of the glowing, curly font, but the name of the book and the picture, and the overall mood of it is gorgeous. So very different and refreshing after all of those eyeball-and-jawline covers that are being thrown around nowadays.
3) The basic premise. I've always wanted a Spring Court and an Autumn Court, and the idea of actually reading about a faerie culture intent on creating them was perfect.
4) The lettering. There were only a bare handful of typos in this book, which very much impressed me. In my experience, first-time indie authors usually bombard their readers with enough typos to make an organized person want to rip their hair out. This book was very well taken care of in this regard; it actually felt to me like the author cared about it.
1) Everyone else's names. Ryder is an American punk name that drips modern day. It doesn't sound magical to me at all. Merrick is just unoriginal, not bad but not good, either. Warren is also not a faerie name, it sounds wrong to my ear in connection with faeries of any sort. The list goes on, but I'll stop here.
2) The Fall Court. The Fall Court is such a cheap name, and the circumstances surrounding it were...well, let's just say they weren't good. Why not use the more traditional name for the dying season, and call it Autumn? Why Fall? Don't poets and "educated" people call it Autumn--because let's face it, it sounds both prettier and more magical. Also, I was very annoyed when Calista and Ryder *cough* kissed the first time, and found yellow and red leaves on the ground where they'd been rolling around. Calista went on and on about how there were no colored leaves in the land of the faeries--in fact, she was so dumbfounded that she almost made it sound like she'd never seen them before, even in the mortal realm, but we know that can't be true, right? Right?
3) The explicit content. This is most definitely the dirtiest book I've ever read. There wasn't a page that didn't have at least a couple of foul words on it, and frequently they were as strong and nasty as it gets. Also, the Calista-Ryder scenes were just a little too descriptive for my taste. This wouldn't be a con at all to me, because I believe people can write whatever they like, but it clashed with the juvenile moods of the characters and their narration.
4) The tenses. This book was written in present tense almost all the way through, but a handful of times I would see a random sentence thrown in that was in past-tense, when the narrator was speaking of something current.
5) The timelines. In this book, the author used the famous King Oberon of the Summer Court and his wife, and in counterpart, Queen Mab of the Winter Court. This is fine with me, in fact sometimes I even prefer it...but it was mentioned in the book that fae are immortal. If this is true, and these are the same royal fae I've read about so many times before, then they are already as old as time. However, Calista is Oberon's eldest child, and Ryder is Mab's eldest child. I'm sure I don't need to point out that this means the royal fae NEVER had children, in the hundreds, thousands, or millions of years they had existed, until twenty-some years ago. Then they rapidly had child after child...both courts almost at the same time. If there had even been a mention of previous generations of children I might have let this go, but there wasn't, so I can't.
6) The repetition. There were literally more than fifty pages of this book that were nothing but re-explaining what I'd already read. I'd read about a scene from Calista's POV, and her chapter would end and Ryder's would pop up...where he would proceed to re-narrate the exact same scene for me again, from his perspective. Sometimes there wouldn't even be any dialogue, just him saying, "I told him this," and "I asked her this." *sigh* I know you did, man, I already read it from Calista's POV. This made several chapters/scenes in the book entirely unnecessary, because they didn't bring ANYTHING new to the table.
7) The humor. It was flat and childish and slapstick to the third degree. People would crack any bad joke that leaped into their mind first, and everyone else would burst out laughing at it. It was like watching an old He-Man or Thundercats episode, where there's always a joke at the end and the screen goes black to everyone holding their ribs, while you're rolling your eyes at them.
8) The romance. There was no love in this book, at all. There was lust galore, where every character in the book would constantly be eyeing the others' physical attributes and thinking dirty thoughts, but despite the near-constant declarations of love being thrown around, it was all tell, no show. They never really talked, they never hung out together, they were never friends before they were lovers. I don't care about destiny or prophets--these are two people who met six hours ago, they can't be declaring their undying love for one another. Merrick was just as bad, he never did anything but cause strife and pain and then gloat about it afterward, before promptly going to do it again.
9) The tempers. In this book, people would regularly snarl foul words at each other over nothing, sometimes going so far as to hit one another and start a fight. They'd snap and swat and spit like rabid badgers, and they showed about the same amount of grace while they were doing it. There was no reason for this--as above, there was jealousy, not love. Merrick would touch Calista's arm or put his own around her waist, and Ryder would explode with fury and threaten to kill him....No, no, no, no. If you two really loved Calista, you'd let her make her choice, and you'd go on being loyal and devoted and FRIENDLY, not trying to rip away a huge piece of her heart by killing each other. I understand that the author is female, and writing about men can be confusing and irritating, but this is not how adult men act. This is not how any adults act, but even testosterone and macho standoffs don't realistically escalate like they did in this book.
10) The modern world. It influenced this book enough that I think I can safely say that it's set in the present day. The entire book took place in the realm of the faeries, but it might just as well have been on the streets of Los Angeles for all the magic I witnessed. I think this book should have been one about superheroes instead of fae--that way, the author could comfortably have remained in the modern world she obviously prefers, and kept her characters' superpowers. The main plot was so beaten down by the romance that it could have been practically anything, so that's hardly even a factor. There were a few little winged people floating around for effect, and some people lived in trees, and there were kelpies walking around in the grass at one point, but those could easily have been dispensed with--they didn't actually play a central piece to the story.
11) There were a few sentences in this book that I had to stare at to make sure they were really what I thought they were. Like this one: The darkness of the forest feels like it is eating away my courage and replacing it with defeat. Darkness might eat away your courage, sure. But why not put despair, instead of defeat? Darkness can't put defeat in your heart or mind, it isn't an emotion. You can feel defeated, but not defeat.
And this one: Nixie looks over at me and I shake my head 'yes.' You don't shake your head yes, dearie, you nod. You shake your head 'no.' Second graders are learning this everywhere.
There were more of these, too, but I'm too lazy to look them up.
So, I'm finished beating the book about the head. As I said before, I think if the author works hard, gets an editor to help her clean out unnecessary scenes, and does some research on traditional faerie folklore (not that you need it when you're making up your own folklore, but she really didn't do that in this book, so research would help), she could become an amazing writer. I won't recommend this specific book to anyone I know, but even my favorite writer published one book I didn't care for - so, hey, I might pick up her next book just to see what's changed.