Friday, June 10, 2016

Twenty-Six Roses - Tamara Vann (Keeper's Daughter #1)

Twenty-Six RosesThings this book does not have to do with:
-Twenty-six roses
-A person who is a "Keeper's Daughter"

The roses are very, very briefly referred to at the end of the book.  But unless the main character, Kara, is not actually the main character, I can see no reason that this series is called "Keeper's Daughter."  Shes' 15, so she clearly doesn't have a daughter, and she's apparently also not the daughter of the person who formerly held the title of Keeper in the world that this book involves.  So yeah, I'm not sure where that comes from.

Now that those things are out of the way...

Twenty-Six Roses is about Kara, whose father dies and whose mother moves herself, Kara, and Kara's little sister Meghan from Colorado to Texas in order to get away from the tragedy.  On one of the first days in their new house, Kara and Meghan find a weird mirror behind a barricaded door in the attic.  Meghan half-falls through the mirror and is injured by something there, and quickly sickens.  When Earth doctors don't seem to be able to help her, Kara goes back to the mirror and enters the world beyond it to find a cure for her sister.  In the mirror, she finds a world where "people" are really human-sized animals, with the exception o of the Marked (like guide and love interest Vargas) who appear to be humans with a few animal-like features such as eyes and teeth.  The world has fairies and menacing creatures called shadow howlers, and it's hinted that there might be more magic but it's not really dealt with.

Actually, while there are some very nice concepts here--fairies who will take over your body and hurt you while having fun, or tempt you off your given path, pendants like the sun and rain that hold some of the properties of their likenesses, and quests to find cures for mysterious illnesses, it left hanging a bunch of things that I, well, find kind of strange, such as...

-A strange woman of a different species entirely shows up in your kingdom and declares herself ruler.  You apparently have no problem with this; there doesn't appear to be any prophecy of any sort to support this or anything like that.  And then that woman goes away, and another shows up a huge amount of time later... And you welcome her, too, even though she pretty much blatantly says that she's not the person you're looking for.  You accept her as your new ruler anyway.  Why?

-Animals are people.  Except they're not?  Sparrows and mice and dogs are people, but rabbits and horses and ponies and phoenixes are not.  Some animals are people, and others are eaten.  Why?  What's the distinguishing factor?

I'm going to set aside the issue of how quickly Kara attaches herself to the new world and Vargas and accepts it all in such a short time, even when her sister is dying back in her own world.  I have some problems with it, but it's a pretty typical trope for this type of book so I'm going to let it go.  What I'm not going to let go is that there's no real conflict in this book.  Everyone Kara meets pretty much bends over backwards in order to help her.  Even though she's lying about who she is, even though they have no real reason to.  Vargas himself just immediately decides he's going to work with her and do everything in his power to help her, even though he knows she's not this new ruler person.  I just can't wrap my head around the logistics of this, or the lack thereof.  It's not addressed at all.  Kara just breezes through the mirror, finds out she's the new ruler of this place, and is just kind of like, "Oh, cool, so help me help my sister, good, kthxbai."  It's just weird.  The background for this setup isn't laid out and isn't a problem at all, and how there's absolutely nothing to oppose Kara once she gets on her way.  There are a few trip-ups, but it's nothing that's actually aimed at preventing Kara from reaching her goal.  Instead, they are things that could have happened to anyone.

Overall, this was a cute, short story, but I think it would have done well with some fleshing out.  The background for the world and Kara's new position in it just isn't there to support the narrative, and while there are some nice concepts, a lack of a strong central conflict (Meghan's illness hardly qualifies as a conflict) means there's also a lack of compelling oomph.

3 stars out of 5.

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