Today, I'm thrilled to be reviewing Ryan Graudin's ethereally beautiful All That Glows!
But before you read my review, have you checked out my Q&A with her (plus a giveaway?)
Paperback, 480 pages
Expected publication: February 11th 2014 by HarperTeen
Format read: E-ARC via Edelweiss
When an ancient force begins preying on the monarchy, Emrys must hunt through the London’s magical underworld, facing down Banshees, Black Dogs and Green Women to find the one who threatens Richard’s life. In this chaos of dark magic, palace murders and paparazzi, Emrys finds herself facing an impossible choice. For despite all her powers, Emrys has discovered a force that burns brighter than magic: love.
Fortunately for me, HarperCollins kindly granted me access to an ARC via Edelweiss, and I read this the very second it downloaded.
And guys, I have to say: this is a beautiful, magical book from a very bright new talent in the YA writing community.
Things that worked:
Emrys won me over from the very first page, when she basically makes it clear from the get-go that she just doesn't want to go back into London.
She's stubborn, strong and isn't afraid of using her age to pull rank on the younger fae guarding Prince Richard. But at the same time, Graudin isn't afraid to showcase Emry's weaknesses, including her indecision and genuine nervousness at facing someone she's inexplicably attracted to for the first time.
I loved witnessing Emry's transformation from the solitary, stalwart (and serious stubborn) fae that has lived for thousands of years in the wilds, to someone who is still magical and real, but a little more human as she falls in love with Richard and his way of life.
Prince Richard and the other characters are secondary to the story - this is very much Emry's bildungsroman - but what Graudin does share of them, perfectly rounds out the story and explains their place and role in this hybrid magical-contemporary world.
I'm pretty picky about books that are set in London - I lived there for a long time, so I hate it when writers throw in Big Ben and Westminster Abbey in their descriptions, and somehow expects that to be "London".
Graudin gets it right. She understands the heart of London, in a way that reflects in every sentence, every description that she gives of the city. She understands just how London can seem like such a modern place, but also still have the magic that enchants people even now.
Bottom line: If you are an Anglophile, you want this book.
Graudin has an style that immediately draws people into the story. It's thoughtful, lyrical and really emphasizes the idea that Emrys is a an ethereal being, with the wisdom and the knowledge of the ages on her shoulders.
I don't necessarily think the writing style will appeal to everyone - a cursory glance at the reviews can tell you that - but I personally felt like Graudin's writing really: 1) reemphasized the innate magical heart of the story, and 2) actually strongly reminded me of that lyrical note you get with Arthurian legends.
The relationship between Emrys and Richard is very much at the heart of this story, and I think that Graudin has created the type of relationship that genuinely feels ageless. I'm normally not a swoon person, but the romance between of them had me squeeing a bit at times!
Without giving any spoilers away, Graudin ends the story on a perfect note. There's a sequel planned, and she's left a perfect number of loose ends to keep the reader guessing, and have them coming back for more.
Things to consider:
At the end of the day, this is a fairytale. There are princes, magic and fairies (quite literally in this case), and of course, their relationship isn't going to happen in a normal, sequential sort of way. Throw in the fact that Richard's frequently in mortal danger, and Emery's protective instincts are constantly kicking into full gear, I'm not surprised at how quickly they fell for each other.
And isn't the romance-against-all-odds why we love fairy tales in the first place?
Through Prince Richard and Emry's love story, I was also reminded that there's a little bit of magic in day-to-day relationships and occurrences as well. I loved this book, and I highly recommend this book for readers who are looking for a beautiful, enchanting world to escape to for a few hours.