Book Review: Quintspinner by Dianne Greenlay

8 Jan

Image**This review is based on a NetGalley e-reader copy of the book, which I received for free in exchange for an honest review.

Okay, I really wanted to like this book–I love historical fantasy, I love pirates, I should love something that says “Lord of the Rings meets Pirates of the Caribbean” right on the cover. And yet, I have to place this in the DNF pile. 

So, here’s the good: the plot is actually pretty interesting and promising, filled with adventure and magic. It’s not even terribly written from a historical fiction point of view; the dialogue is right on par and the descriptions take you back to the proper time period. It felt well-researched without reading like a textbook, which is exactly what you want in historical fiction.

For all of the above reasons, I think it’s worth it for you to check it out. With all of the praise this book has gotten, I think my issues with it are probably down to personal preference rather than something inherently wrong. My issues being:

1. The characters. The book alternated perspectives between two main characters, Tess and William. I didn’t like either. They both felt flat, uninteresting, and too perfect. In William’s case, it was like, your brother and father are dead and you were kidnapped, your mother and sister probably have no one to look after them now, and you’re feeling… nothing? I just straight out didn’t care about Tess. She had these markings on her neck that apparently made her special, and I was like, of COURSE she’s special. Marks couldn’t just be marks. They have to be Important. I hate that. It happens in books all the time. Perhaps this bothers me because I have a birthmark and I don’t feel the need to touch it, take notice of it, point it out, or feel downtrodden or special because of it. Seriously, it’s a differently coloured bit of skin. That’s all. Why are these things CONSTANTLY used in fiction as a way to “mark out” someone with special abilities?

2. The different POVs. Firstly, the POVs weren’t consistent in the number of (itty bitty) chapters. Tess and William didn’t alternate chapters and one didn’t have consistently more chapters than the other. It was jarring to be in the middle of Tess’ story for three chapters and then go to William’s for one, then Tess’ for another two and William’s for four (estimates only; I didn’t keep track, except to know it wasn’t consistent). Secondly, when I stopped reading about a quarter of the way through, it still wasn’t clear how these two storylines were going to merge, if they were going to merge at all. You do get an idea when you read the synopsis, but a quarter of the way through, the plot should be starting to reveal itself. It wasn’t.

3. The writing style. Basically, rather than saying “William thought the ship was dirty” the narrative would go like: “William looked at the hammocks. Wow, this ship is dirty.” It was so frustrating to read like this, and it was constant. For both POVs. The italic thoughts completely pulled me out of the narrative. Plus, there were a lot of lengthy, ill-placed flashbacks that read like watching a children’s comedic TV show. Like, Character A asks a question. Character B looks off into the distance. Screen ripples. Enter lengthy flashback. Screen ripples again. Character A slugs Character B’s shoulder and asks question again, as Character B has been absent from the world for 10 minutes. The world just doesn’t work like that in real life.

The frustrations were just too much for me, and I set the book down. Rather, as this was on an e-reader, closed the file. I just couldn’t make it through, promising as it seemed.


One Response to “Book Review: Quintspinner by Dianne Greenlay”


  1. 2014: A Year of Reading in Review | More Than One Page - December 31, 2014

    […] Quintspinner by Dianne Greenlay * […]

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