“Mari is an Earth Walker, heir to the unique healing powers of her Clan, but she has been forced to turn from her duties, until she is chosen by a special animal ally, altering her destiny forever. When a deadly attack tears her world apart, Mari reveals the strength of her powers and the forbidden secret of her dual nature as she embarks on a mission to save herself and her people. It is not until Nik, the son of the leader from a rival, dominating Tribe, strays across her path that Mari experiences something she has never felt before…”
I received this book as a Christmas present in 2018. In early Spring I became sick and never got a chance to finish the book. I finished later 2019/early 2020 and this is my review of the overall series. Perhaps not the best book to start off with after a year of illness and no reading because if it’s length, but I managed to work my way through.
As with every book she writes, Cast creates compelling characters that are so easy to get attached to. Mari and her mom are lovable and relatable in their sameness and differences. Mari’s longing to fit in and be like everyone else and her desire to be herself are all struggles young teens can easily relate to. It did take a while to connect though, at first I found Mari’s whining annoying and Mama was a bit harsh.I’m not sure either experience much character growth throughout the story, but the plot itself made up for that. I kind of feel like, overall, that Cast was trying to do too much at once and a lot of it should’ve been cut down in editing. This book needed some major revisions.
Unlike most Cast novels, there are some unusually weird characters that simply don’t make sense, or at least their point of views don’t. I’m not sure why Cast chose to include these pov’s, but I would have enjoyed the book more if the bad guy had been left a mystery for the last book. I honestly skipped over these parts at first, just to see if I’d miss anything. I didn’t miss one bit and the story was better, but I did go back and read for the sake of this review. The Skin Walkers are where the editing really needed to shine because the character was annoying and clearly psychoticly reaching. I’m not sure what point Cast was trying to reach with these people or who they were suppose to represent.
The world building is quite interesting and unique. While expansive and descriptive, each different people group has their own setting that fits their needs. It’s beautiful and I’d love to experience it in person. There are a few downfalls though. I don’t feel like I understood why they were so separated and how the world came to exist. I have quite a few questions after finishing the book that I hope are answered by book 2 and I think this is where most people are leaving the book confused, because I know I was for sure.
The problem with this theory though, is that the editing. The editing was lacking compared to her first published books which were nearly flawless as far as I could tell. A missing period here or there was always expected in the House of Night books but Moon Chosen was using the wrong name in the wrong places and there were several tense changes in the middle of sentences which took me out of the story and I tended to misunderstand a lot because of trying to figure out what was happening. Because of this, I don’t think the world building questions will be answered in full as much as I wanted them to.
Yes, P.C. Cast does delve into strong issues within this book such as rape, slavery, racism and homosexuality. However, the review claiming that it does so poorly and as racist and homophobic nature are simply wrong. Cast uses her world building to reflect on our natural past and uses that in the book. Mari is actively fighting to stop the slavery and people condoning it. I’m not sure why this is being seen so negatively because it really isn’t. Really my complaint about the book is poor editing and world building. I think, perhaps others are taking it a bit far and overly sensitive. Writing is supposed to mimic the world that we live in and provide better examples, which Cast attempts to do with her writing. Does she succeed? I’m not sure I can answer that question clearly. After all, Mari does manage to burn down the institute holding the slaves and declares that she will make a new and better world, but…what happens to the slaves in the end is never made really clear and is left as a hanger for the second book and again, this is all due to poor editing and world building management.
I did enjoy this book though and would otherwise give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars. It isn’t my favorite P.C. Cast book by far, but I am compelled enough that I would continue to read the series. Could it have been better? Of course, in many ways. I also saw this in Casts later anniversary series from the House of Night. I believe that because Cast is a highly respected author, her later works are not getting the edits the need in post production for grammar and world building and this needs to be confronted. Perhaps it could even clear up some of the angry complaints other reviewers are leaving behind.
It does go to show, though, that no matter what stage you are at in your writing career, editing is still one of the most important factors in creative writing that will always be necessary. I do think that this is one book that each reader is going to agree or disagree on, but it’ll have to be left up to the actual reader.