Stray (Four Sisters, #1)

stray-hc-cFirst Lines: Aislinn’s hands were bleeding.  Her dress was stained with dirt and muck, her hair unraveling with each heaving breath.  The scent of dampness, of mud and sweat, filled her nose.

This was a book I think I got free from Scholastic as part of their Reading Club rewards one month (which is like, such a blessing and a curse because I can never get through all my books!).  Originally, this book hadn’t caught my attention.  But once it was in my hands?  Yeah, I was willing to try it.

Aislinn seems to have it all: power, wealth, and the title that comes with being a princess.  The only thing she doesn’t have is the ability to control her magic…and that can cost her everything.  When Aislinn’s magic causes too much trouble, she’s forced to give up everything about who she is in order to train to be a fairy godmother.  As a fairy godmother, will Aislinn be able to follow the Path she’s been given…or will she find her own?

As an original fairy tale, I give it kudos for being imaginative and different.  There are definitely elements of different stories in it.  A dash of Cinderella, a pinch of Sleeping Beauty.  Every now and then you read over something and go, “Oh, so this is like this story.”  But for the most part, there’s no story that you can wholly compare it to.  It’s all on its own.

…But I nearly quit at the beginning.  Aislinn’s world is so patronizing and male-centric.  Early on in the book, this was the face I was constantly making:

glee-oh-hell-no

See, in Aislinn’s world, women are supposed to be meek and biddable.  They are always supposed to listen to their Advisor, who is always a man.  The Advisor is always right, even if in your gut you believe him to be wrong.  Even when your Advisor tries to get you married off to someone who doesn’t care for you at all.  And in the grand scheme of things, you listen to your Advisor first, then your husband/father.  If you have a problem, you go to them instead of trying to figure it out on your own because, hey, women clearly don’t know what’s best for them.

*Fumes*  I hated this.  IhatethisIhatethisIhatethis.

The only reason I stuck with the book was because I hoped there was going to be a “stick it to the Man” moment at the end of the book, where Aislinn would like, roundhouse kick her Advisor in the face and call him a chauvinistic pig.  ‘Twas not to be, though someone did get their comeuppance.

So besides allowing herself to be made into a thoughtless sheep, Aislinn wasn’t that bad…but she wasn’t great either.  I had a really hard time getting attached to her as a character because, in the beginning, I was trying to figure out her world.  Then, once I started having that figured out, she underwent some emotional (or, ahem, lack of emotional) turmoil that suddenly cut off everything that I had to connect me to her.  That was frustrating.  It took several chapters to get that connection back.  And by “several”, I mean something closer to 15.

But once that connection was regained, the story did pick up.  The plot got more exciting and there was actually even a little mystery/suspense.

Honestly, though, there just wasn’t a whole lot of substance to the book.  I found myself skimming pages sometimes just to get to the dialogue because the descriptions contributed little or nothing to the story.  So, not a great read, but not utterly awful either.  Even though the beginning kind of is.

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