Friday, July 15, 2011

The Wretched of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler

Imagine a world where words are so precious they are only etched in gold, and only the privileged are allowed to learn how to read. Muirwood Abbey is one of the few places where learners are taught to read and engrave, and thirteen year-old Lia wants nothing more than to learn both of these skills—yet she is a wretched, an orphan, and doomed to remain in the Aldermaston’s kitchen, forbidden to read and subject to his authority. Her future is destined for preparing recipes in a privileged household until, unexpectedly, a mysterious knight-maston abandons the wounded squire Colvin at the Aldermaston’s kitchen in the middle of the night. Soon after, Sheriff Almaguer comes hunting for Colvin, and Lia is thrust into the greatest adventure of her life as she and the squire are forced into a partnership that brings her closer to her dream—and Colvin closer to his fear of dying on the battlefield. The Wretched of Muirwood is the first book of the Muirwood Trilogy.” (amazon summary)

So, with all the news about indie-publishing and with my husband planning to jump into the foray himself, I decided to take the leap. The Wretched of Muirwood is the first electronic indie-published purchase of mine. So how did the experiment go?

I really enjoyed the story in this book. There were several really bad typos. As in the main character Colvin suddenly gets called Cohen in a few paragraphs. Awkward! There were a few descriptions that I would have pointed out to the writer to clarify if I were critiquing the manuscript.

Yet, when it came down to basic storytelling I was hooked. The first chapter had a good hook, and after that I was pulled along with the main character Lia on her interesting adventure as she learned more about her magical abilities. I really didn’t want to stop reading. At first Lia only agrees to hide Colvin from Sheriff Almaguer until the sheriff comes looking for him at the Abbey. Lia manages to help Colvin escape only to discover she has sent him directly into a trap intended to capture him.

Lia can’t allow her new friend to get captured on her bad information so she leaves her safety of the abbey and with the help of a magical orb sets out to save Colvin. The result of her actions sends her on a journey that helps both of them discover more about their powers and heritage than they knew before. I enjoyed how the author showed that this duo needed one another to achieve their potential. I liked watching the trust and friendship grow between them as they faced and supported one another through their darkest moments.

I also liked the setting and the interesting aspects of the magic system, which is based on faith and belief. All magical powers are achieved through the use of a power called the medium. The use of the medium feels very similar to the way religious belief works in our world. I think some readers may find this as sort of preachy, but I found it kind of interesting. It allowed the author to portray the topic of faith and how it works without referencing a specific creed. Though I must say that I enjoy the thematic exploration of faith in literature. Those are the stories that I find most interesting and some of my favorite passages of the book were when Lia had to struggle within herself to find the strength to use the medium.

Story wise, some things that bugged me was that Lia did a lot of lying and stealing, and general sneaking around behind the Aldermaston’s back, but never really got in trouble for it. Though, I guess at the end of the book she did realize that she should obey and trust the Aldermaston. Yet, still I don’t like lying characters that much. I hated Lyra in the Golden Compass series for the same reason. Yet, I loved Harry Potter and Harry lies a lot. The lying wasn't so bad that I hated Lia as I did Lyra, but sometimes it annoyed.

Shall we return to the topic at hand? Overall the Wretched of Muirwood is an entertaining story with characters that will stay with me even after I have finished reading the pages.

Visit the author Jeff Wheeler's blog


Jeff said...

Thank you for writing a review of my book. I don't know how the 'Cohen' thing happened - it is not in any of the versions I have. How strange. But I'm glad you enjoyed the story nonetheless and especially for taking the time to write a review and posting it to your blog site. Cheers!

Gamila said...

Perhaps the Cohen thing was a random formatting error? Alas, these things can be really frustrating sometimes. Good luck with the writing! I had fun reading the book.