Monday, February 9, 2015

Review: Stray

Title: Stray
Author: Elissa Sussman
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 384
Rating: 4 Cows



Goodreads Description:

I am grateful for my father, who keeps me good and sweet. I am grateful for my mother, who keeps her own heart guarded and safe. I am grateful for my adviser, who keeps me protected. I am grateful for the Path, which keeps me pure. Ever after.

Princess Aislynn has long dreamed about attending her Introduction Ball, about dancing with the handsome suitors her adviser has chosen for her, about meeting her true love and starting her happily ever after.

When the night of the ball finally arrives and Nerine Academy is awash with roses and royalty, Aislynn wants nothing more than to dance the night away, dutifully following the Path that has been laid out for her. She does not intend to stray.

But try as she might, Aislynn has never quite managed to control the magic that burns within her-magic brought on by wicked, terrible desires that threaten the Path she has vowed to take.

After all, it is wrong to want what you do not need. Isn’t it?

Before I begin, can we just stop and take a moment to appreciate the cover of Stray by Elissa Sussman? Seriously though, I love it so much! The first time I heard this book mentioned was in an Epic Reads YouTube video.If you’re not familiar with Epic Reads, you need to go check them out immediately!Anyhow, I saw the cover for the book and I knew no matter what the book was about, I was planning on buying it, even if just for the sake of this gorgeous cover alone. Then they started talking about Strayand when I heard it was an original fairy tale, I knew I had to get it.Thus, my TBR on Goodreads grew one more that day.

“I will accept the Path I am taking. I will not stray.”

Stray is about Princess Aislynn and her ‘Path,’ which is essentially a way of life princesses are expected to follow.They must go to an Academy, which is the equivalence of a private school for girls in their world.Girls their age are considered dangerous, because their emotions can cause them to perform magic without even meaning to.In this world, girls are the only ones with the ability to do magic. Instead of embracing that though, they are taught to control it, and hide it (except for a few situations). Not only are they taught control over their magic at these academies, but they also learn everything from needlepoint and calligraphy, to dancing and how to flirt with suitors.Everything leads up to their ball, where they can meet their suitors that their advisers pick for them.

“I will heed the words of my advisers and guard my loving heart against cursed magic.Ever after.”

Unfortunately this proves harder for Princess Aislynn than she could ever imagine.An incident occurs at the Academy, one that gets her kicked out and redirected, which involves leaving her family and going to another academy, where she is trained to become a fairy godmother.Fairy godmothers are assigned to a princess, and their main job is to help the princess get ready and serve them, while also reporting any incidents of magic and bad behavior to the princess’s adviser.The regulation of magic is extremely strict in these academies, and more than a few slip-ups can send a princess packing and redirected to another Path. When she is upset, Aislynn’s magic can get the best of her, so in order to distract herself during these moments, she bakes.Her own fairy godmother, Tahlia, taught her how to bake.Elissa Sussman’s writing is so descriptive it’s as if you can actually smell the baking bread! And in case you decide you want to make this bread for yourself, Elissa has included a recipe for the bookbinder’s bread in the back of Stray!

“I pledge my loyalty to the Path and all who tend it.”

One of the aspects of Stray that I found intriguing was the role of fairy godmothers in this world. Unlike the traditional fairy godmothers of old fairy tales, these ones play an entirely different part in the lives of the princesses they are assigned to.Even more interesting is the fact that many of them used to be princesses themselves, who were then redirected.It’s hard to read this and NOT feel bad for the fairy godmothers, who are forced to pledge a life of loyalty to the princesses and watch them live a life they almost got to have themselves, before they made a mistake at their academy.

I have only one complaint about this book.While Aislynn is training at the academy, there is something bigger occurring in her world, that she is eventually dragged into.While Stray hinted at this, it also gave very few clues as to Aislynn’s part in this, and what was actually happening. Even towards the end of the book it gave very little away, which was extremely frustrating.That being said, I have high expectations for the next book in this series, which will hopefully reveal what is happening, and why girls Aislynn’s age are disappearing from all the academies.All in all though, this book was fantastic and Elissa Sussman did a great job of creating a new world for readers to get lost in!



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