Thursday, July 19, 2012
Review: The Hedgewitch Queen by Lilith Saintcrow
Tags: YA, fantasy
Orphaned Vianne de Rocancheil serves as lady-in-waiting and confidante to the princess at the royal court of Arquitaine. But when a treacherous act destroys the court, Vianne is forced to team up with the Tristan d'Arcenne, the mysterious Captain of the Guard. For Vianne possesses something the traitors need in order to properly take the throne, and for the sake of her slain friends, Vianne will do anything to protect it.
I really wanted this to be the next Crown Duel, in terms of story style, characters, romance, and fantasy world. And on the surface, THE HEDGEWITCH QUEEN certainly seems promising in all those fields: Vianne is a humble minor noble lady who gets tangled up in the political court intrigue of a magical world that takes its inspiration heavily from a bastardized version of France and the French language. There's the strong and silent love interest who believes in the heroine long before she believes in herself. Doesn't that just remind you of Crown Duel and all that goodness?
Alas, the similarities end there. Vianne is no Meliara. I didn't get far into the story before Vianne was tripping over herself in an effort to prove herself to be the most tearful, pathetic, and un-self-confident female in all of Bastardized France. Vianne suffers from that literary syndrome I suppose I shall have to give a name to from here on out: the Anti-Histrionic Female Character Syndrome, in which the female MC goes out of her way to convince readers that she is worthless, plain, boring, uninteresting, by virtue of her lowly status, ordinary looks, absolute lack of character, (lack of intelligence), etc. Far from gaining my readerly sympathies, these females simply goad my ire. For this syndrome is wish fulfillment; it's trying to say that females don't have to actively improve themselves mentally, intellectually, or emotionally--because, of course, the hot guy loves them just the passive and pathetic way they are!
The way in which Vianne and Tristan d'Arcenne interacted simply made me feel tired. Everything they said to each other was riddled with misunderstandings--misunderstandings that didn't seem to be necessary to the main plot but rather only served to further the romantic intrigue. What's so romantic or intriguing about constant misunderstandings brought about by Vianne's lack of self-confidence, may I ask? Yeah... that's what I thought.
In the end, my lack of feelings for either of the main characters led to this being a DNF for me. I give Lilith Saintcrow props for trying, but the blandness and patheticness of the main characters could not hold my attention for the duration of the story.
Cover discussion: That model is so not Vianne, but maaaan, I am foolishly attracted to that dress, the title font, and that emblem thingy. And, oh, hey, doesn't this cover look very similar to this one?
Orbit / Dec. 1, 2011 / e-book / 360pp. / $2.99
e-galley received for review from NetGalley and publisher.