It’s definitely a week of ARC reviews! And my next one is a review of The Elven Tales by Fabi Ghittoni.
It was fascinating hearing about the process of the book’s creation during my interview with Ghittoni – I’ve already seen how beautiful the cover looks and can tell she’s put a lot of effort into every detail!
The result, of course, is absolute stunning.
Just look at it. Look at it.
Every page is a work of art – quite literally. Each chapter begins with a gorgeous illustration and the story itself is written on a backdrop of wintry trees. If any book has been designed to take the reader to a new world, it has to be The Elven Tales.
The one slight complaint I had was that I found the book a little hard to read on my Kindle due to aforementioned forest backdrop and the fact that I couldn’t change the size of the font (it was a little too small for my liking). It took a bit of squinting and eventually I just gave up and read it on my laptop. Having said that, mine was an ARC PDF so I’m not sure if the real deal would be easier to read on Kindle. (Note – readers can also purchase a paperback copy of the book which I think could well be worth it considering how beautiful it is. In fact, I wouldn’t mind a hardback copy just to add to the aesthetic of my bookshelves!)
Now on to the story.
Orphan Prudence Clarke’s at Cambridge, living with her best friend’s family while she studies to get into university. Lately, there’s been a spate of kidnappings of girls the same age as Prudence and her best friend, Maddie Percival, which has the Percivals more than a little worried. That doesn’t stop plans going ahead, though, for Maddie’s birthday.
On her way home for said birthday party, Prudence is attacked by the would-be kidnappers – and rescued by a trio of warriors who whisk her away to another world where five kingdoms rule. There, she discovers she’s the lost heir to the Elven Kingdom and the only one who knows where the lost runes are that could save this world. Now she’s on a mission to find them, and travelling with her are the brave warriors know as the Company of the Rose.
Ghittoni has mentioned Harry Potter and The Hobbit as her influences and I can definitely see a mish-mash of both in The Elven Tales. There are little magical/plot devices straight out of Harry Potter while we’re all familiar with that age-old tale of a company setting out on a quest to save the world.
While not the most original of plots (read: lost heir, book-loving orphan hero, medieval European-style fantasy kingdom, world-saving quest, etc.), Ghittoni has endeavoured to deliver a fun, fast-paced journey for her readers. There’s certainly no lack of action in The Elven Tales as Prudence and her friends are besieged time and time again by Alanel’s forces and a traitor runs amok.You can feel Ghittoni’s enthusiasm and passion through her words, and certain scenes – like the ones with the Mithlons (I want a Mithlon for myself now!) – won’t fail to imbue readers with a giddy sense of adventure and that love of being taken to new worlds.
The writing is a bit rough, as to be expected of a debut indie author, and could probably do with a bit more polish. There’s one too many adverbs and adjectives, too much telling and not enough showing. You can’t fault the book on page-turning action, but I agree with some of the other readers that I’d like to see a little more character development and world building. Right now, there’s a lot of the usual stereotypes such as the good-girl heroine, the love interest, the loyal companion, the smart-talking one and the evil villain, but I’d like to see a bit more complexity and depth to make me care about them.
Criticisms aside, there is a lot of potential in The Elven Tales and I’d be keen to see more from Ghittoni as she develops her skills as a writer. The Elven Tales is an action-packed, easy-to-read book that can be recommended for all ages. It’s a really beautiful book too, and one that has been developed with so much love and care, you can’t help but be fond of it too.