CSFF Day 3 – The Realms Thereunder Review

Hi again everyone!  Today is the final day for this month’s CSFF blog tour, and I’m relieved because the rest of the week won’t be quite as hectic, but also sad because it’s been fun so far!  Though this afternoon/evening, I’ll hopefully have time to go around and visit all my fellow tour participants!

So today, I’m going to actually review The Realms Thereunder.

I’m going to give you a warning – I don’t enjoy reviewing books.  I’m definitely a read-it and keep-it-to-myself kind of girl.  Part of this is because I don’t always know how to get my analytic thoughts out on paper (it’s been a few years since Freshman Comp in college :D).  The other part is since I write so much, and I have 4 critique partners that I work/swap stuff with, I can’t seem to get out of critique mode.  So, my review may be a bit more technical from the story-writing point of view.

Overall, I very much enjoyed reading The Realms Thereunder.

It could have been more powerful, though.  The paragraph that I shared in Monday’s post, that was the only part of the book that really resonated with me.  I was hoping for more like that, and there was some, but not quite as powerful.

The point-of-view and time jumps were an effective way of telling the story, but it could have been done a little smoother.  There were at least all of these different sections:

Daniel and Freya in the past (as children).
Daniel in the present.
Freya in the present.
Character who we weren’t really quite sure how he fits into the plot surrounding Daniel & Freya until the end of the book in the present.

Jumping back and forth between time, places, and points of view is a challenging way to tell the story.  It’s so very similar to flashbacks, and it takes a lot of skill to pull it off.

Ross Lawhead pulled it off, but it needed a bit more polishing.

I really like Daniel.  As a person, he was consistent.  I could see how the experiences that he and Freya went through as a child shaped who he became in the present.

Freya was frustrating to me.  Not because she was lacking as a person, but because nothing is revealed about her.  I understood her motivations as a child, but I didn’t understand them as an adult.  She alternates between extreme passion for something (as mentioned before about conveying the truth to people), but also extreme fear.  Why?

Not only that, but she also ends up spending 90% of her time in the story under an enchantment, and not even realizing it.  When the make-believe characters in her mind (created by the enchantment) start listing genealogies and she falls asleep over and over again, I almost fall asleep too.

It’s one thing to FEEL what the character is feeling, but it’s another entirely to DO what the character is feeling.  Writers should be working to achieve the first, not the latter, because there were times I almost put down the book because it wasn’t compelling me to read more, it was compelling me to take a nap.

I knew before starting to read the book that it is the first in a trilogy (it says it right on the front cover, after all), and so I knew that the plot wasn’t going to be completely wrapped up in the first book.

But it felt more like it was barely hinted at.  Reading this book felt more like a prequel than the first book in a trilogy.

I wanted to see Daniel and Freya together more.  I wanted to see Freya come to some realization about herself besides “Okay, at the very least, I should help Daniel.”

I loved the Knights far more than any other character.  They made me smile and laugh and cry.  They were the ones with something to lose here.  If Freya had anything to lose, it wasn’t made obvious.  Daniel definitely had nothing to lose.  He embraced the adventure wholeheartedly, and not that it was bad, but there was no conflict for him.

So why didn’t we see the story from the Knights point of view?

Disclaimer: Through participation in the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.