Saturday, February 12, 2011

Book Review: Hawksmaid

The last book I got to reading over winter break (and I forgot to say it the other day but Otome Yokai Zakuro was the last of the fall anime as well) and I just wasn't that impressed by the book actually. But I've actually caught up with almost all the books I've read so far, earlier than expected (having 150-200 pages of school reading a week is putting a damper on reading for fun, also it takes a lot of time) so I'll have a little post about that soon. But, even though this book wasn't to my taste, it really wasn't that bad a book and I did understand it so it deserves a review.

Hawksmaid by Kathryn Lasky
I think my library's copy of the book was a bit darker, weird, but this is the right cover. And I like it, nice photorealism (actually, the brighter colors make it look like photoshop filters over real photographs), nice color scheme, and I like how the title and author name frame the hawk. 

Summary: Richard the Lionhearted is fighting in the Crusades while his brother Prince John is causing havoc and ruining lives in England. Matty watched him steal her family's wealth and her friends in the village watch him steal all their livelihoods as well. Matty immerses herself in raising her family's hawks while her friends fight back against Prince John in every way they can.

The Good: Back when I was in middle school, the Middle Ages were the king in fiction (seriously, it was a lot) but recently more of the books have been set in the Victorian period so it was fun to go back and read something different. Felt pretty similar to what I would have read in middle school as well, plucky young heroine proving herself to a bunch of young guys over and over again and eventually being the one who saves the day, I probably would have liked the book a lot more back then. And the emphasis on hawking was pretty neat, I can only recall one other book right now that had that particular hobby* and the little excerpts about hawk keeping at the beginning of each chapter was rather neat.

The Bad: I'm a picky person and one thing I don't like in fiction is when you have a perfectly normal realistic/historical fiction story and then there's one piece of magic that's never explained. Like I said yesterday, I like urban fantasy that balances out magic with realism but that doesn't happen here. The story is perfectly normal up to the last part of the story and then Matty suddenly has the power to posses her hawks and she was literally talking to them earlier in the story. There's no real explanation for this (aside from a "she's just so close to them that they have a special bond" handwave) and that just bugged me more than any other details in the book.

So, not really a book for me but it was worth a shot. I remember reading so much historical fiction (and bibliographies) as a kid that it's sad that I don't have that much historical fiction to read these days (pretty much everything I can find is either realistic or just plain fantasy). If anyone does have a good recommendation or two please post them, I'll certainly look into whatever people suggest!

*Isabel: Taking Wing from the Girls of Many Lands series that American Girl put out years ago, lots of good historical fiction actually, wish I had that much historical to read these days.