Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Melissa Douthit - The Raie'Chaelia

The Raie'Chaelia
The Legend of the Raie'Chaelia #1

by Melissa Douthit

Kindle Edition Available

Story Summary:
When Chalice sets off for Branbury in the middle of the night with her grandfather's instructions, she has no idea of the dangers that await her. The King's men have destroyed her home village of Canton and she is suddenly thrown into a Terravailian world that she does not know. Lost and alone, she is hard pressed to evade the iron grasp of the madman who rules the land. With the help of a friendly Chinuk, an old man, and a book that she discovers along the way, not only does she find true friends and true love, but she also finds her true self and what it means to be the Raie'Chaelia.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Rachel

          On the plus side - I enjoyed the premise of the story. It has a great plot with plenty of twists and turns and interesting new things to "see". There are ideas to ponder and several interesting characters. On the one hand, you can see a definite genius of an idea and some areas of the book were absolutely brilliant. The plot is entertaining enough to keep most teens and pop culture kids on the edge of their seats, and will keep most others at least curious to find out how they are going to solve several of the pressing problems that abound during the book.
          It has so much potential.
          Really - I wanted to like the book, especially since I can relate to the authors background, and because there are several aspiring writers in my family as well. New authors deserve a fair shake and a good reading.
          This book needs a talented editor ... not for the grammar - I really didn't see very many blaring typos or grammar problems ... but to iron the rough spots.
          This book is like an nice party dress ... that got left in the dryer and nobody had time to iron. I'm sorry - but there it is. Maybe I've just spent far too much time helping edit papers and essays for my students.
          First I read all of the negative reviews - and I'll have to say I agree with them.


          While over half of the conversations are well put together and flow well, there is the other half. Nearly a quarter of the conversations are what I call "news filler". (Meet John who had his house damaged by fire, he barely escaped with his life. Microphone goes to John, "Yeah, my name is John. My house burned to the ground and I barely escaped with my life." )
          I've got to learn how to take notes for reviews on my Kindle - so from memory, and I've only just finished reading this book, an example would be ....
          Chalice pondered what he said but didn't understand what Ben told her. "I don't understand Ben, what do you mean?" Chalice demanded. (remember, this is probably not verbatim in the book - just an example of a common tactic used in this book - hundreds of times.)
          Another good sized chunk of the conversations could have been left out completely. It adds nothing to the story, and sometimes is very out of character, distracting, or just makes them sound rude and self centered. Many times the adverbs at the end of the spoken words are what did the damage - you imagine the words spoken one way, only to have a completely different adverb applied .... saucily, sarcastically, angrily, demanded, or glared (for some examples).
           Some of them, many of them, maybe even most of them - are brilliant.
          And then there are the frequent duds:
          The horses forelock, mane, and tail were white as snow, and hung loosely across her forehead, neck, and rear end. (OK ... isn't that where a normal horse has their forelock, mane, and tail?)
          They brought the horses to the stream (river, pond, bucket of fresh water) and the horse dipped in his nose and drank his fill until he wasn't thirsty anymore. (don't most horses drink if they are thirsty and have been riding?)
          There are hundreds of these, and it can be quite annoying. At least I found it annoying to be told again and again the same detail. This made the book appear padded and forced to make a random "I gotta have so many words on my book report" feel.
Repetitive words and phrases
           The absolutely most annoying of these was the "she noticed". I rapidly came to dread Chalice having any time to look around. Because "she noticed" all the details. .... Rough paraphrased example from early on ....
          Chalice noticed that the door they emerged from was the strange cupboard that she had noticed the night before and wondered what it was. She noticed that Jeremiah had picked up (several adjectives) knife and place it (wherever). She noticed that there was a barrel with his saddlebags laying across it. Inside he was sliding (some object). He turned and she noticed that he had his favorite bow strung to his back. He was talented and had probably built it himself. She noticed that ....
Cliché and Borrowed Ideas
           This is not always a bad thing ... but
          This book abounds with them. Usually this is a sign of a well read, but armature author that has gotten "stuck". The book Eragon was like that too (and it got made into a movie!) This is not always a bad thing - after all, "there is nothing new under the sun". However, they should be used carefully and sparingly. And especially don't use them as filler to make a story longer, or as a gag to lighten an intense moment.
         There was only one real "love scene" in the book. And it sounded like the author had copied it verbatim out of a romance novel. Not that it would matter which one - nearly every romance novel has the "she was sucked into the brown pools of his eyes, his lips tasted like honey and his smell was uniquely his own."
Packing for a trip
           Chalice had no idea how to pack for a "quick get away". This girl was PACKED. No wonder Sunny couldn't outrun the bad men - Chalice must have had 30lbs in dresses and shoes with her - based on the number and variety of dresses mentioned in the text and the number of times she changed clothes. Although most of the time she wore her wonderful soft lambskin boots with soft lining to keep her feet toasty warm. Honestly, they didn't need to be described each time she put them on. ... She also had a thick book with her. Granted, it was important because of her birthmark ... but still ... that would have been heavy to carry when you are racing for your life! I'm probably exaggerating here - but I was really amazed at the number of times the girl changed her clothes and tossed the dirty ones in a corner to be laundered.
          Neither of them knew how to pack food. How in the world would they be running dangerously close to running out of food in only 4 days? Seriously. What did he eat on his 2 week hunting trips? How hard would it be to shoot something on their path for that matter. They really needed to learn to ration their food more carefully.
Info Dumps
           Somebody else mentioned these on Amazon. And there are a LOT of them. Usually top secret information that Jeremiah would take copious notes about inside his notebook. Secret info there. He got captured and barely came out alive - what if all that info fell into enemy hands? If I had been Ben - I would have burned it, or at least forbidden him to write secret info down in it.
Flip Flops between Future/Present
           This one left me dizzy - even though she "explains" this in the next book - I found it tacky to constantly be pulling our modern foods, animals, words, and more into this extreme distant future. Even if they DID still speak English, it would have changed. They would have different words to say than "cool". In the middle ages, youngsters ran around saying "Verily" and "Forsooth" and such. For me at least - this didn't make the story comfortable - and drug it over into the "cheap trick" category.
          I did appreciate the way she handled the sea voyage - the animals has similar names, but slightly different. It sounded like the people were descendants - not warped into the future with their history erased but vocabularies intact.
          Plus, this is an agrarian society. Yet the characters interact as if they were modern city kids. It is obvious that the author either has experienced big farm life, or is well read on the subject, but missed the closeness of a true agrarian society.
Basics about the World that can be confusing at first.
  • There is a 28 hour day.
  • This is the Earth of today - thousands of years in the future and after an ice age.
  • The Earth spins backwards and has two moons.
  • The people were underground when the second moon appeared, so they don't know how it got there. After the earthquakes, some people began to develop special powers, and eventually the people came back up to the surface to a lush green planet.
You do eventually learn this during the info dumps, but as they are easily skimmed over and missed, I'm putting them here.
Basic Plot Review ...
The introduction gives us a snapshot of a time some 18 years previous. Eventually you will figure out what this has to do with the rest of the book.

Genre/Theme: Fantasy, Post Apoctolyptical, Magic
Reading Level: Teen
Profanity: Moderately Low with some exclamations and language
Sexuality: Higher end of Subtle

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