Shelf 2 – Row 8 – Book 30
So, the first spin on the (non-existent) wheel begins! This week, I happened to select the Fantasy genre. After a quick drive up to my local Half-Price Books, I divided up the shelves of the Fantasy/Sci-Fi section and plugged the numbers into my random generator!
That led me to grabbing this week’s fantasy read, The Mountain’s Call by Caitlin Brennan.
My initial thoughts upon grabbing the book had me fighting off a childish smirk. The cover artwork seemed as if this book would be better suited for young girls in love with horses and romance. The cryptic sign at the center of the field assured me this book would have a great share of fantasy, pulling my mind away from any immature bias. The back of the book promises a story full of mystery, predetermination, empires, and secrecy. Alright, might be my kind of fantasy story after all.
The pages were crisp, although a bit yellowed. Like I know everyone does, I put my nose to the book and gave it a whiff. Nice quality on the smell spectrum, I do say. Reminded me of something I could grab off the shelf at my old grandma’s house – gently used but quite furnished.
THE RUNDOWN (WHAT I READ)
The story focuses in on a girl named Valeria. She has magical powers. She is “called” by stallions to a mountaintop to be tested for greater things. This typically only happens to boys. Her mom won’t let her go, so she escapes. She does so by disguising herself as a boy.
Valeria then faces many trials from the harshness of the wild before travelling with a ton of other boys and men (who she crushes on) to the mountaintop. She’s then tested by the elders/stallions where she passes with flying colors. Some boys die from the trials due to harsh punishment by the elders. Upon passing, it is discovered she is a boy.
Does it sound confusing and like I’m leaving out a lot? To be honest, I’m really not. The plot can be very confusing and left me wondering why some things existed in its world.
THE THREE HOUR READ
As I started my three hour clock, I took quick notice of the total pages – 536. Each page has thick bold text, somewhere on the average spectrum on words per page. No Lord of the Rings here, but still quite overwhelming to make a significant dent in my allotted time.
Just half an hour into the book and I had already learned one thing about this author – she really loves horses. The story follows a female lead in a fictional world full of magic, where supreme beings exist in the form of horses. It seemed that not two pages went by without there being a horse, or at least a mention of it, in the story.
As I continued on, I found I really loved Brennan’s attention to detail with her environments. She took the time to describe the temperature, taste, smell, feel, and even pain character’s felt. Reading some of these descriptions always transported me to the scene.
The plot kept my attention fairly well, and I’d be curious to read a summary out there of how things end up. It felt like a mix of The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, with the trials and magic mixed together. As mentioned before, the major flaws in the story’s plot came from the confusing and random nature.
The shortcomings experienced and what leads me to say that I don’t see myself continuing this book much further exist in its complexity. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good complex fantasy, but Brennan rushed into the world and its characters without taking the time to engross me in it. I found it hard to care about anyone I was reading about, as characters come and go (although, the story remains centered around Valeria) quite often. While Valeria had me cheering on for her somewhat predictable, strong female roll, all the other characters felt generic and boring…which leads me to Brennan’s tone in general…
She writes very well, mixing her beautiful descriptions with the plot heavy and direct language. The issue lies in her inability to make me feel the magic or surreal life of her world. I mean…magic, near death, horses – you had my attention, Ms. Brennan…you just couldn’t keep it!
THE FINAL STATS
Progress made: 27% (146 pages out of 536)
Book’s initial condition upon purchase – Like new
Any breaks during the 3-hour session? – Nope.
While The Mountain’s Call does initially well to show promise in terms of its (at times, confusing) plot, the book suffers from a lack of development and flow of its world.
Likelihood to continue: 3/10
Interested in the book yourself, or hungry for more opinions? Check out on Amazon The Mountain’s Call.