Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Jamie McHenry - On Fallen Wings

On Fallen Wings
By Jamie McHenry

Paperback Edition Available

Product Description (from Amazon)
Faeries are supposed to be perfect.
Rhiannon was. Her life was. Then her betrothed disappeared.
She tried to be strong. She asked for help. There’s only so much trying and asking will do.
So, she took action.
That’s when everything fell apart.

About the Author (from Amazon author page)
When I'm not plotting tales in my head, I spend my days with my wife and five children. In sight of a large lake and snow crested mountains, the adventures unfold, both real and imagined. ON FALLEN WINGS is my first published novel. Its sequel, FROM RISING FLAMES, is coming later this year.
This biography was provided by the author or their representative
O.Scarlett Review by Rachel
Romance novels are not my cup of tea – really.  But this one was suppose to be about faeries ... and adventure as well.  I found the book as a free offer via Pixel of Ink Young Edition

The characters are fairly real and  conversations were good and the plot was interesting ... yet for some reason I finished the book not caring much for it.  I still can’t place my finger on what it is about the book that felt a little sour, because I can see that most would truly enjoy the book.

The faerie part really surprised me, because she isn’t a tiny creature with wings – she’s as flesh and blood as you and me.  So right off, you have to put all of your preconceived notions about faeries, pack them in a box, and forget them.  In Aisling, being a faerie is a HUGE honor and granted to only a very few of the women of the village.  It is a position filled with love, joy, and secrecy,  fiercely guarded by the members of all ages.  Rhiannon is one of the youngest.  Outside of her betrothed, Sean, it is her other great love and purpose in life.  Yet, the faeries of this story are still just as mysterious as their tiny cousins.  The author does a wonderful job of weaving the mystery surrounding this exclusive group of women.

The setting has a bit of a medieval feel to it, a remote village, Aisling, steeped in tradition and mystery.  The story opens the night before Rhiannon’s betrothal ceremony.  She and some friends have been dancing in the meadow and it is now dark, and we find that a bandit has been raiding the village.  It is no longer safe for the girls to be out alone.  The bandit continues to play an important part as he shows up time and again to complicate the plot.  The opening chapters should appeal to most teen girls who still dream of a dashing prince on a white stallion – and although the horse is a white mare, and the rider only the prince of her heart – there is a definite flavor of true love and risking everything for that love.  A love for horses is evident in the text throughout, and these animals are significant throughout the story.

The book is written in first person from Rhiannon’s viewpoint.  It is an interesting place to be, and lends itself well to the emotion of this tale – a begging of forgiveness seems to permeate much of the book – though it is very subtle for most of the book.

On their day of promise, both Rhiannon and Sean must ask the other for a token to be performed or found to satisfy a wish to prove their love for each other.  Sean’s gift is quite attainable, but Rhiannon’s gift will require Sean to leave their valley and be gone for a long time – she has asked for a rumor.  Of course, her heart is breaking as the full impact of her request impacts her heart.  Sean will be away from her, for months, and if the rumors and whispers prove to be false, she suddenly realizes that he may never return from his search.  And then, to her horror, he asks his brother to keep watch of her while he is away, a brother that she completely detests.

One of my favorite chapters involves Rhiannon’s search for Sean’s gift.  It was my favorite part, as she follows instructions to find a cave on Sean’s families land, and like any good cave, it has been used to hide things.  She takes two best friends to aid her efforts.   Her search is long and dangerous, but successful; however it is very late, and the worry about making it back out before nightfall without falling down any of the cracks in the floor of the cave’s tunnels is felt strongly.

Eventually, Sean returns with the sought after prize, and their wedding is planned for the Spring.  Everything is perfect (Remember that is what the Product Review stated, I’m not giving much away).  And...  that is when things started to go wrong.

Sean is taken and nobody seems to care to get him back other than Sean’s brother and Rhiannon.  Feelings of disdain and distrust are set aside as the pair try to rescue this man that they both love deeply.  The village elders seem to not care and will do nothing.  The other faeries are no help either.  They are on their own, and when Cael tells her what the cost of Sean’s return will be, her heart falls.  This is a price she cannot pay.  It is impossible, and yet as the days pass on, it is the only option she has ... betraying who she is or loosing her love forever.  Time is running out.  She makes her choice and the results play out.  Can she live with them?

This book is filled with raw emotion; it is not so much a story to tell a tale, as it is a look at the human heart and what causes a person to make the choices that we do in life.   Rhiannon is perfect, she has everything that she could ask for, and as a faerie, she is happy and joyful and privy to many secrets of her village.  After Sean is taken, she is pulled downward as feelings of hate, despair, and betrayal fill her mind and heart.  The journey through her thoughts and the choices that she makes are what makes the magic of this story.

This is almost a coming of age story, but even more so, it is the struggle of a human heart asked to choose between two equally evil choices, and how that choice’s results play out.  If you choose evil, can good ever come of it?

Now that I think about it, I do know why I didn’t like this book.  The feelings of despair are raw and real as you see the heart of Rhiannon and as she makes and is forced to face the consequences of her choice.  Be sure to have a tissue box handy after the book shifts over to the dark side.

This book will probably be best liked by tweens and teen or young adult girls.  While there is an element of adventure that may appeal to some boys, it is more romance and drama than adventure.  On the other hand, it is not a girly girl book either.

Genre/Theme:  Romance, Middle Ages, Magic/Faeries
Reading Level: (by appropriateness)  TEEN - upper elementary to middle school 
 Profanity: (by amount in text)  LOW - few mildly offensive words 
Sexuality: (by content)   SUBTLE - hinted, but not explicit  -  there is a swimming scene that is a bit suspect, otherwise there are kisses and dreams of marriage between characters.
One scene describes the carnage left behind after a raid attack on the home at the edge of town.  Also a man is found dead. 

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