Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (2.75/ 5 stars)
Every year, a sacrifice must be made to the Goddess Bergot. And this year, Gisela is one of them. But Gisela is determined to survive for her sister Thora, and with Brahm by her side, she might just do it. But, she’ll have to use her familiarity with fairy tales and her own guile to survive. Yet, as they venture through Bergot’s realm, they learn there are darker forces at work, and Gisela is at the heart of it.
I really thought I would like this book. It’s a dark fairy tale retelling…which is one of my favorite types of stories. But, it missed the mark for me. It took me nearly two months to finish this otherwise short book, and to finally get through it I skimmed the last 50 pages.
Let’s start with the good though: the writing is fantastic! Rosalyn Briar is quite talented in painting a picture and transporting her into the world. Her characters are well defined, and she does a fantastic job showing Gisela’s value especially around Thora and Brahm. Briar also pulls from many fairy tales, weaving them into the new fairy tale she has created.
There were a lot of little things that ultimately turned me away from this book. I want to mark at this point that there are spoilers below.
To start with, early on in the plot there is an attempted rape scene. While this was handled okay, and didn’t turn me away from the book, the fact her friend Brahm came to the rescue took away from Gisela’s ability to defend herself, which she says she was prepared to do.
What really bothered me though is how Brahm and Gisela’s relationship was portrayed. Their relationship initially was everything I enjoyed: friends-to-lovers, mutual pining, and a kind male character with a tough female character. Yet, the way their mutual attraction is portrayed is in awkward, gratuitous situations: Gisela’s white dress getting covered in water, Brahm accidentally grabbing her rear-end, and other instances. Again, while these did not detract from the story initially for me, the more they popped up, the more I would put the book down to look at later. While my dislike for these interactions are personal, they did affect my overall rating for the book.
In addition, I felt like this book could have been either a bit longer to help us really get to know the world and some of the characters who die earlier on, or this book should have been shorter, written more like an actual fairy tale.
I will say that the ending saved the story, and that’s why I decided to give this book 2.75 stars instead of my initial rating of 2.5 stars. It ends on a cliff hanger that causes needles to climb up your spine, and makes you wonder what became of the valley next.
So, while this book wasn’t for me, others will enjoy it. It delves into your favorite fairy tales, but continues to have a slightly modern tone to it. This is a story of self perseverance…and I think most people will see themselves in Gisela as she searches for the Crown of Bones.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What’s it about?
Gisela knows about sacrifice all too well.
She abandoned her education, friends, and fairy tales to support her family and care for her sister.
But when she jilts a wealthy suitor, Gisela is chosen for another type of sacrifice.
As an Offering to the Goddess Bergot, Gisela and seven others are sent on a deadly quest for a mythical crown. To return home, Gisela must overcome obstacles which darkly resemble the fairy tales she once believed.
Weaving through a tapestry of friendship, romance, violence, and magic—Gisela becomes the target of an ancient evil force, while an ominous detail from the past haunts her at every turn.
To what lengths will Gisela go to save the ones she loves?
Sometimes sacrifices must be made.
Trigger Warnings: This book contains graphic violence, cursing, and sexual situations.