Publication date: May 12th, 2015
Format read: ARC via Publisher
Fortunately, Fallon isn't the only student with a terrible love fortune, and a rebellion is brewing. Fallon is determined to take control of her own fate—even if it means working with a notorious heartbreaker like Sebastian.
Will Fallon and Sebastian be able to overthrow Zita's tyranny and fall in love?
(Because my only alternative was watching Stardust on repeat, and it was getting a little sad how many times I had seen it, within a two-week span.)
After a LOT of searching, I'm thrilled to say that I've totally found it in Love Fortunes and Other Disasters. It's an effervescent book that kept me grinning from beginning to end.
Things that worked:
It's tough feeling like you're the ONE person not destined for happiness, and Karalius could have easily made Fallon a dejected and/or bitter character, after getting her love fortune. . But nope.
From the beginning of the book, she absolutely radiates with internal optimism, albeit with a few nice quirks. Karalius makes it very clear how and why the slightly order/cleanliness-obsessed Fallon is determined to find true love (and most definitely deserves to do so), and how it's the strength of her personality that allows her to keep positive, after what is essentially a love-less sentence.
With such a cheerful (albeit quirky and occasionally snarky!) outlook, it's hardly surprising that Fallon is one of the few people who can begin to rally people to work on overthrowing Zita's tyranny.
All of the secondary characters are delightful as well, particularly the twins. Without giving too much away, I felt like I was immersing myself in a Doctor Who-esque world, where there are quirky, powerful characters with their own agendas, but you hae an innate feeling that love and godo WILL trumph in the end.
On world-building and writing:
Karalius's world-building for her book is flawless. She creates layer-upon-layer of detail to her book, to the point where I fully believed the town's long relationship with love, and the fact that magic is so readily used on a daily basis. Every single time I had a question in mind, Karalius immediately answered it, like she had been anticipating it.
As for the writing, Kimberly mentioned in my interview that she's been working on her craft for a VERY long time. It cleraly shows in her book - it has the ease, confidence and strength of voice that I typically associate with well-established writers.
Throughout Love Fortunes, Karalius really stresses the idea that it's relationships - whether familial, friendship or romantic - that helps all us individually become who we are meant to be. But conversely, we can also always feel the most pressure from those relationships - e.g. Fallon's fear of letting her family down, after she gets wind of her love fortune.
Karalius explores what it means to gain strength from the relationships we make, and to also make the best of (or even break free!) from those relationships where unhealthy expectations are put on individuals. There's one instance in the book when we see how the strength of a friendship is able to help someone break free froam a toxic relationship, and we also see how Fallon is able to grow beyond simply worrying about disappointing her parents.
It's kind of a heady lesson for what is essentially a very funny, light-hearted book, but I appreciated that lesson all the more.
*Slight spoilers ahead*
Also, I appreciated the fact that the Fallon/Sebastian relationship began on a slightly predictable note, but Karalius makes such a compelling case for why the work, I ended up cheering as they started working their feelings out.
On magical villainy:
Like my beloved Stardust, Karalius understand that a villain in a story like this needs to be both menacing, but also can't be too terrifying.
While the reader will undoubtedly dislike ZIta for her more damaging love fortunes, and for the fact that she can often dictate an entire person's destiny, Karalius crafts a backstory and motivation to her, that absolutely makes the reader understand her motivations, as well as the motivations of those around her.
I literally had an "OHHHHH. I get it!" moment while reading, and I don't really have those thoughts when it comes to fictional villains!
Is perfect. But I want to see where the characters go from there!
Things that didn't work/ Things to consider:
Along with impeccable writing and flawless world-building, Karalius has created a heroine and a rich, detailed world that I absolutely wouldn't mind spending more time in. I'm also super thankful to the readers of Swoon Reads for selecting this book for publication, and for bringing Karalius's talent to the world.
I highly, highly recommend thsi book for fans of quirky books with magic, like Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic. But I also recommend this book for fans of TV shows like Doctor Who (10/11 seasons, only!) and for fans of movies like Stardust. There's magic in this book, and you need to let it invade your life.
About the author:
Kimberly Karalius holds an MFA in fiction from the University of South Florida, and has been sharing stories on Figment.com with a strong following of enthusiastic readers since the site's conception. Although Kimberly lives in sunny Florida, she prefers to stay indoors and sometimes buys a scarf in the hopes of snow. She loves watching really old cartoons and silent films. Being in Florida certainly has one big perk: going to Disney World. Which she does. Frequently. Love Fortunes and Other Disasters is her debut novel.