Cover Image: Ancient Canada

Ancient Canada

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Member Reviews

When Marigold and her younger sister Lavender are exiled from Ancient Canada due to Lavender’s powers, they rely on her ability to see life and death to stay alive as they wander the Arctic Circle in this alternate universe. Each chapter is told by a different person or creature they encounter.

This unique tale was entertaining, if a bit slow in parts. My favorite part was getting to meet the various creatures the girls met during their travels. Deanna Larson did a nice job narrating the audiobook. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy verbose fantasy.

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me an audio ARC of this book.

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1.5 rounded up.
I listened to ~50% and stopped because I basically was not enjoying the story.
The opening was intriguing, but shortly after the amount of detail became overwhelming. The author has created a fantasy world where an interesting story could take place, but this story seems to be lost in the detail and tangents. The audiobook is also excessively long. This novel seems more like a rough draft or a brain dump rather than a finished work.
Some people may like the detail more than I did. I chose this because I wanted something different. This just was not my cup of tea.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this audiobook in exchange for an honest revie.w

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I really wanted to love this book. The plot sounded great and I was so excited to read native legends. But I just could not get into this book. It was just ok. Maybe I need to be in a different mood, but I just didn't get it. I found myself drifting off and then not realizing where we were in the story.

3 stars

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Lavender has a magical ability that allows her to see life and death. But when she and her sister are exiled for her ability, they find themselves journeying through Ancient Canada, stumbling across various creatures and beings as they go. Little do they know, they’re also being hunted by assassins. (I know my blurb is awful; you’ll see why when you read below).

The concept for this work was fascinating as was the concept of the setting. I liked the creative ways that Lavender used her gift of knowing if someone will live or die (e.g., determining if plants were poisonous, avoiding certain paths, etc.), but those were the only positives about this work.

There was no explanation for anything. There’s some sort of magic related to fortune telling; there’s a large war raging between Siberians (who may or may not be cannibals and are covered in thorns) and Canada; there are some odd fantasy animals with giant udders; etc. There are some modern names/concepts used but then also pseudo-medieval technology and fantastical things. There are jumps between characters (and jumps in the timeline) from chapter to chapter, with zero information to ground the reader in where or when the chapter is taking place. There were also long monologues (multiple pages) from people that the protagonists ran into that should have been interesting, but as we knew nothing about the person talking nor how the protagonist got to them, it wasn’t engaging at all. The chapters weren’t connected to each other in any way, making this read erratic, confusing, and lacking in any sort of cohesiveness. And the plot? It was there somewhere I believe, but it was lost more often than not.

On top of having zero information to ground the plot, world, or characters, the author also tried to provide commentary on many social issues. Some of these include analyzing the true nature of evil, the treatment of Others in a rigid society, class, sexism, self-worth, and more. These were not explored in a meaningful way, largely due to the author’s writing style. It feels like this author read everything Charles Dickens has ever written, then took it as a challenge to over-write even more than him. There are so many unnecessarily detailed descriptions of things that are irrelevant to the characters and plot, and the dialogue was so stilted and wordy that it felt robotic.

The narrator was not a good choice for this book. There were many different male characters, and she was unable to do their voices without sounding strained. And at first it was difficult to tell if the dialogue was written poorly or if it was poor narration – but I think it was both. If you are going to pick up this book, try the e-book rather than the audiobook. Due to how this work was written, it was impossible to engage with the characters as there was no information included about them, making them lack in depth, development, and personality.

This reads more like a first draft rather than a finished book, and though it was only 400 or so pages, it easily felt like double that. I hope the author takes this book as it is currently and spends some time reworking it, as the concepts are fascinating and would normally be something I got excited about. As it is now, I can’t recommend this disjointed and frustrating read. My thanks to NetGalley and CamCat Books for allowing me to read this work. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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Ancient Canada
by Clinton Festa
A story of a book created in a world of give and prejudice. Two sisters lives are tied together as they are exiled into the wild. Many diverse characters with many divergent ideals and conflicts. These two sisters find out the hidden story of the country. Hidden by past, but also their countries leader, and the war with the neighboring country. Their attempt to find the truths, find the story tellers of their world and find unity.
This is an imaginative story that would be great for reading with students focusing on perception, description and prejudice without real world examples. The book allows students to see that labels, and misinformation cause many of the problems in society. That open discussion, and truth will not only lead to a better world, but help others as the sisters did unconsciously.

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Not the Canada You Know
This review is for the audio version of the book from NetGalley

Funny from the first line ("If I were to describe my sister in one word, it would be...oversimplified.") Clinton Festa's Ancient Canada: A Mythological Tale tells the story of two teenagers whose gifts, both natural and supernatural, enable them to change the course of warring nations.

In interviews, Festa has said that the book was inspired by a trip to New York City, where a friend's neighborhood restaurants came from diverse cultures that never could have met in the ancient world. In Ancient Canada, sisters Marigold and Lavender have no such limitations. They are able to travel by land, sea, and air from their native Canada to other countries surrounding an ancient Arctic Circle.

In this alternative Earth, the people of the different northern cultures wage war on each other while otherworldly creatures exist just outside their perception. Crossing repeatedly between the "real" world and the fantastical, the sisters work to undo the misunderstandings that drive people apart. Their consistently witty dialog lightens tragic events without making light of them.

Though this independently published book is expertly narrated by voice actor Deanna Larson, the audio quality leaves something to be desired compared to audio books from the big publishing houses. That said, Larson does a great job of differentiating the voices of the many characters, both male and female, and the excellent quality of the story soon eclipses any imperfections in the audio.

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Thank you to the publishers, author and NetGalley for the free copy of this audio book.

I wanted to like this more than I did unfortunately... It had some really interesting scenes, but the audio was rough and it was almost too wordy at times. Beautifully written overall, don't get me wrong- but the banter between characters at times felt too sculpted and not natural. It might have been better for me to read a physical copy as opposed to the audio but oh well.

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The audio on this really is tough to listen to. There are some parts that are too quiet that and I keep readjusting my sound, other parts are too loud. The voices of the two main characters (the girls) are somewhat whiny, which makes it difficult to tolerate, and in chapter 5 there is an entire minute that is completely repeated. I tried adjusting the speed to see if that would help but it did not.

The book itself had some good moments and some good subplots but the overall plot was not enough to keep me going. I did try to listen to it and ignore the narrators voices and the fluctuations of volume - which did make it easier to tolerate the story overall. I was able to get through about 70% of the book before I just couldn't listen anymore.

I would not recommend.

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