Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The Conjurer Princess by Vivian van de Velde
Seventeen-year-old Beryl's wedding ends in murder when a baron abducts the bride. The church and law turn a blind eye to the abduction while Lylene, Beryl's younger sister, is left homeless and seething for vengeance. Lylene goes to a wizard for help, bargaining to learn magic. The bargain has a bitter dark side not fully explained to Lylene ... and so does Beryl.
Like the stories in Vivian Vande Velde's collection Curses, Inc., this character-driven novel has an ironic bite. Despite her good intentions, Lylene's naïvete is her undoing.
This book was brought to my attention when I read Small Review's Guest Post at Tiger Holland's All Consuming Reviews. She wrote that one of her favorite couples was Weiland and Lylene. Well, I had to see what she was talking about. The love story is very shy and understated as the story is set way back in time, and yet you feel the blossoming of something between them. They go through a lot together. It isn't insta love. In fact, in the beginning it's insta hate between the two. But they are thrown together to survive and I think their reliance on each other, their shared experiences and losses, their shared anger all bring them together. There is no big romantic declaration and yet at the end, you can see that the truce between them is something more.
The story is a great one and a quick read and one tweeners and adults would love. Here is Lylene watching her sister get married to the boy who proposed to her when he was a youngster after her sister demanded he do so. It was always assumed they'd marry. Lylene is standing between the children's group and the adult's trying to decide which group she belongs in. All of the sudden they are attacked after the vows are made and Randall, the groom, is killed. Beryl the bride is swooped up, Lylene's aunt tries to stop the brute who takes her and she gets a boot to the chest three times and dies from her injuries. The Baron that kidnapped her marries Beryl and claims Randall's lands and Lylene is left homeless and penniless. She's hellbent and determined to rescue her sister. So she demands that a wizard teach her all he knows about wizardry. He reluctantly agrees and she works as a maid to pay for his services. But he doesn't teach her until one fateful night. In an instant he teaches her and finds that she has only the power to duplicate things that don't last long and the magic has an unfortunate consequence.
Lylene is resourceful though and conjures a gold piece to secure a room for the night at an inn. She's fine until the gold piece disappears. She's in real trouble until she spies the chivalrous, but very inebriated Shile and the very unwilling Weiland across the room. They take up her cause killing a few men and take off with her making camp hours later. Her ability comes in handy when they are ambushed, but Weiland has a thing against magic. He keeps his distance from her.
They find the castle where her sister is being kept and all is not as Lylene thought. Trouble, big trouble happens and Lylene almost shoots her sister with an arrow. Lylene escapes the castle with her companion much wiser to the ways of the world.
It was a bittersweet story and like I said the love story wasn't what you might expect. It was chivalrous I'd say. Weiland is a true gentleman and does what he promised to do. He's a great companion to her and I wish the author had continued their story. But I'm satisfied with the ending. You just know there is an HEA.
Vivian Vande Velde was a prolific writer. I plan to read more of her stories. Plenty are available on Paperback Swap and on Amazon. I recommend her stories. They are fairy tales, but not always the light fare you might expect.
Heather in Sandwich