So, I saw this trend all over BookTok and I had to try it for myself! It was fun reflecting back on some of the books I read and reminding myself on what my expectations were. We are going to start off with the books that I ended up rating the lowest amount of stars. Let’s jump in!
The Mermaid – Christina Henry
Rating – 2 stars
Plot: Once there was a mermaid who longed to know of more than her ocean home and her people. One day a fisherman trapped her in his net but couldn’t bear to keep her. But his eyes were lonely and caught her more surely than the net, and so she evoked a magic that allowed her to walk upon the shore. The mermaid, Amelia, became his wife, and they lived on a cliff above the ocean for ever so many years, until one day the fisherman rowed out to sea and did not return. P. T. Barnum was looking for marvelous attractions for his American Museum, and he’d heard a rumor of a mermaid who lived on a cliff by the sea. He wanted to make his fortune, and an attraction like Amelia was just the ticket. Amelia agreed to play the mermaid for Barnum, and she believes she can leave any time she likes. But Barnum has never given up a money-making scheme in his life, and he’s determined to hold on to his mermaid.
Up until I read this book I had given all of Christina Henry’s re-tellings 4/5 stars. I went into this book with super high expectations. I was super excited to see her take on The Little Mermaid story but what I actually got was a historical fiction mermaid story not an actual re-telling like her previous books were. I was disappointed. I also didn’t really care of any of the characters which meant my connection to this novel was very small.
The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R Tolkien
Rating – 3 stars
Probably my most controversial fantasy book opinion is that I did not enjoy the Lord of the Rings series. I loved the Hobbit and I read that book first so I went into The Fellowship of the Ring expecting the same thing. I did not get the same thing. This was way too boring for me. I am not a big fan of books which are essentially walk from Point A to Point B. And that was this book for me. The writing style was hard to follow at times and the pacing was extremely slow. It was not a fun experience. The only reason it got 3 stars was because I liked the big lore dumps that were littered throughout the book. I could read more of that.
The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden
Rating – 3 stars
Plot: At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil. After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows. And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent. As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.
Now, the way this book was marketed to me on BookTube was that it was a heavy fantasy book with a historical background. That was not the case reading it. This book felt more of a historical fiction novel with a slight fantasy element added in. Due to expecting a lot more of the fantasy side of the book I was dissapointed with what I got. That being said, I continued the series and both follow up books had more fantasy elements and were 5 star reads. I think if I re-read this book my rating would be higher.
Galatea – Madeline Miller
Rating – 4 stars
Plot: In Ancient Greece, a skilled marble sculptor has been blessed by a goddess who has given his masterpiece – the most beautiful woman the town has ever seen – the gift of life. Now his wife, Galatea is expected to be obedience and humility personified, but it is not long before she learns to use her beauty as a form of manipulation. In a desperate bid by her obsessive husband to keep her under control, she is locked away under the constant supervision of doctors and nurses. But with a daughter to rescue, she is determined to break free, whatever the cost…
I loved and gave Circe 5 stars so I went into this expecting the same thing. While I still really enjoyed this short story I feel like if it was expanded upon it would have reached that 5 star mark. I needed to learn a bit more about the characters etc.
The Fall of Babel – Josiah Bancroft
Rating – 4 stars
Plot: The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel in the world. Immense as a mountain, the ancient Tower holds unnumbered ringdoms, warring and peaceful, stacked one on the other like the layers of a cake. It is a world of geniuses and tyrants, of airships and steam engines, of unusual animals and mysterious machines. Soon after arriving for his honeymoon at the Tower, the mild-mannered headmaster of a small village school, Thomas Senlin, gets separated from his wife, Marya, in the overwhelming swarm of tourists, residents, and miscreants. Senlin is determined to find Marya, but to do so he’ll have to navigate madhouses, ballrooms, and burlesque theaters. He must survive betrayal, assassins, and the long guns of a flying fortress. But if he hopes to find his wife, he will have to do more than just endure. This quiet man of letters must become a man of action.
This series will always hold a place in my heart but I would be lying if I said that the last book had no flaws. While the last book in the series still had the same amazing characters, writing style and imagination – I practically guessed the ending. The ending was not what I was personally hoping for and I felt that the endings some characters got were a bit unsatisfying. I was hoping the ending would follow a different direction. But I will always and forever love and promote this series.