by Geordie Morse
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Pub Date 29 Oct 2020 | Archive Date 31 Jan 2021
Sixteen-year-old Renna Porter has finally outgrown a painful and uncanny childhood. However, a fateful visit from her grandmother’s disciple in witchcraft thrusts Renna into a world of magic hidden within the mundane. Her talent for the Craft awakens while the pair are pursued by a murderous demon, the same one that burned nearly every branch of Renna’s family tree twelve years ago. Does Renna’s best chance of survival lie with her dapper tutor, who demands discipline while ignoring her talent, or with her estranged great-aunt, a brooding sorceress eager to kindle that talent into overwhelming flame?
A Note From the Publisher
Average rating from 20 members
This book was fun, and I appreciated the point of discussing pronouns. The writing style was very lovely, easily describing the world around the characters in a charming way. Ultimately this book was a fine fantasy, perfect for someone who wants an easy read.
First of all, let's just take a moment to admire that GORGEOUS cover art. Honestly, I'm so in love with it!
There were quite a few things I really enjoyed about Renna's Crossing. The premise gave an original spin to the whole "teenage hero completely unaware they were born with great powers" trope. Despite not knowing much about the demon, its presence was really felt throughout, as it guided some of the main characters' choices.
I also really liked the diverse cast, and definitely appreciated seeing a discussion on pronouns early on. Contrary to some other books I've read recently, the diversity here didn't feel token and we weren't repeatedly bashed over the head with how diverse this book is. Each character brought their own unique background and personality to the game, and that just made it... themselves. So refreshing! I really enjoyed how some elements from different religious traditions were included, and particularly the loa, which I knew nothing about and prompted me to do a bit of research. I really LOVE it when books help me learn something new!
The style was a bit hit-and-miss for me. I tended to really enjoy the descriptions and world-building: they felt extremely vivid, and I could picture it all clearly, which is always a good sign! The dialogues though fell really flat for me. Most of them felt too forced and unnatural, which made them hard to enjoy. It probably didn't help that as the story progressed, I found most of the characters annoying. The only ones I really cared about by the end were the dads and children in the foster home, and I wish we got to see more of them.
The pacing was also a bit off. The book started off strong and very quickly lost steam, so that for most of it it felt like the story was just dragging on and then it rushed to the ending. This was really a shame, as it had the potential to be much more gripping! The magic was also slightly underwhelming, and I would have definitely liked to see more of it throughout.
Overall, this was a fairly pleasant read that might appeal to someone looking for a diverse fantasy. It is a slow burn, so avoid if you're looking for a fast-paced read.
(Blog review will go live on 26th December 2020)
A very strong beginning, but slowly began having pacing issues as in two steps forward one step back. The chapter transitions were a bit clunky. There were scenes that contained descriptions that did not add to the value of the climax, but most (if not all books) seem to have this. The writing, world building and character development were great. There was a satisfying twist that I did not see coming but the end left me with unanswered questions. A unique story and a promising author!
Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC. This is an honest review.
This is a hard book to rate because my feelings really depend on whether this is a standalone book or part of an intended series.
I had to look "quirky" up in a thesaurus in preparation for reviewing this book, but in truth there are few other words that truly capture the intention behind "quirky". I don't think "odd" or "peculiar" or "unusual" are quite right, because quirky somehow means not merely a little bit odd, but enjoyably and endearingly so. So "quirky" is really the best description I have for this book. The characters are quirky, the writing is quirky, the trajectory of the story itself is quirky.
It tells the story of 16 yo Renna, who discovers she is magic and being chased by a demon, so has to go on a trip to a special safe building and learn to harness her magic along the way. So far, nothing ground breaking here right? We've read this story before a time or two. What really sets this one apart is the... well... quirkiness. The characters are endearing. The writing is... different, but I quite enjoyed it. You'll come across sentences like "Job was impressed, and said so." instead of actually spelling out that piece of the dialogue. This might sound a little "showing rather than telling" but it actually worked for me and was a stylistic quirk I quite enjoyed. After all, sometimes people's arguments are boring - sometimes just the fact that they argued is all you really need to know.
The cast is diverse in race and orientation - Renna's foster parents seem to be some kind of male triad, and one of the key characters uses they/them pronouns. These things sit comfortably in the story and don't feel tokenistic or overdone.
The thing I'm most confused about is that the story doesn't really seem finished. The threat of the demon is vague throughout the book, and the magic system ethereal and ill defined. There are some ways that the book felt to me like a series of vignettes rather than a connected novel - what was actually the point of the whole section in the Christian town?? How did it add to or progress the story?? And what's going on with the demon now? Is it still after Renna? And what the heck was that entire epilogue about??
If this is the first in a series, I'd probably give it a 4/5. If it is meant to be a standalone novel, it feels incomplete and I'd give it 3.5/5
I read the entirety of RENNA'S CROSSING in a day, and that is always a good sign! It was whimsy and odd and unexpected, and even though I had a different idea of what it would be like, I’m not at all disappointed by what it turned out to be in actuality.
As time goes on, the book starts going through a transformation, becoming whimsier and stranger until at the end, readers are faced full on with the magical fairy tale-like elements of the story. Ironically, I actually found myself less enamored of Renna's Crossing at this point, because the plot loses a lot of its uniqueness and instead plunges into territory that has been covered before in a plethora of other YA novels and re-imaginings with fairy tale themes or settings. Without doing into spoilers, I also did not like how the book ended. One could say this was a fitting way to wrap things up given the overall tone of the story, and, if I’m being completely honest, on some level I can even understand why the author decided to do it this way. Still, I was left pretty feeling pretty cheated and unsatisfied. It seemed a shame that we started things roaring but ended them on a whimper.
I received a digital review copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, I am leaving this review voluntarily.
At sixteen, Renna has managed to put her dark memories behind her and is enjoying her life with her dads and dozens of surrogate siblings. But a visit from a dapper witch named Job reveals the birthright of her heritage. The witch Mab, Renna's grandmother and Job's tutor perished fighting a demon 12 years ago. Now it has returned for Renna, the last remaining member of her family. Job tutors Renna in witchcraft while they race back to a safe haven, the Rectory, deep in a forest. Bonds between teacher and student wears thin, and a forgotten family emerges offering Renna a dark power. She must decide if blood is thicker than water, and who will help her survive against the approaching demon.
I loved the cast of characters. I loved the diversity of them. There were so many different personalities, and I felt that the book had a focus on its characters. The diversity certainly didn't feel like tokenism, and it was nicely integrated into the book. One of the main characters, Job, uses they/them pronouns, and they were one of my favourite characters. I loved them, I just wanna wrap them up and keep them safe! Although there were a few characters that I felt were intriguing but didn't get much page time. Ragana was such an interesting character, albeit a little creepy, and I think she could have been a lot more developed. The same with Sera's character, who I loved, but felt she had a potential that was missed.
I liked the story of the book a lot, but I think there were a few pacing issues. The first half of the book felt quite disjointed in its pace to the second half of the book. I felt like I had to drag myself through the last 50 or so pages to get to the end. There were also a couple of moments in the book where Rena’s decisions didn’t seem to make sense to me, and there wasn’t much reasoning explained behind them, so that confused me a little but it wasn’t hard to get over it.
I genuinely liked this book a lot, but I was disappointed with the ending, and there were a lot of questions that I felt were left unanswered. It feels like it should be the first in a series, but I can't find any information that suggests it is.
Thanks again to Netgalley and Black Rose Writing, the publisher, for my review copy.
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