For a girl who lives by routine, suddenly exploding into light on a typical walk into town puts a snag in that lifestyle. For Leonie Woodville, being told that she is Chosen–and in fact is the last of the Pulsar, the most powerful of these magical beings–kind of puts a damper on the whole being normal thing. Leonie agrees, although she has little choice, to join this world of magic that she’s only just been introduced to. Trying to cope with her newfound powers and finding a significant place in Duwyn is harder than it seems. When things start getting out of hand, only Leonie and her reluctant companion, a kytaen who is bound to her until death, can possibly begin to set things on a correct path. The only thing is, choosing what path is correct out of a tangled web of them is more difficult than they’d imagined, with far reaching consequences.
Girl of Myth and Legend is a book that suffers from the problem of a good idea with poor execution. I hate saying this, but a good idea alone can’t carry the story. It sounded like it was going to be a story about a world just on the cusp of a civil war, where everything actually isn’t as perfect as it seems in this magical world. And…it was, it just was such a watered down version of it because the focus was on the romantic potential of two characters who hardly knew each other. The book presents a hierarchy of magical powers and a lack of them, with some characters having more power than others. There’s also a group of immortal beings, the kytaen, who have been cast as slaves of those with powers, even though they were meant to be companions and friends. This is where the story should have been. All of these things, the things that I was actually interested in, were pushed aside for a forced attraction between the two protagonists. I couldn’t even learn about it through Leonie, because any time anyone tried explaining it to her, she rudely tuned them out and then later complained about not understanding anything. You and me both, and I actually cared.
So, Leonie. Easily the worst part of this book. I was frustrated with Leonie for the entirety of the book, because there’s a fine line between being strong-willed and just being an annoying character. She dipped over the annoying line for most of the book, and had the book only been in her voice I would have stopped reading it when I hated the first chapters. The thing that saved this book was Korren, who has a far more interesting backstory than Leonie ever could have had. I really wish that the book had been written entirely in his point of view, because Leonie only knew so much. Whenever things were explained to her, we also had to get her in-depth telling of the events (which were often incorrect, because she hadn’t been listening). And it was always in an extremely dismissive way. To contrast that, there were really odd moments where she was trying to be profound. These moments always read awkwardly and struck me as things that people wouldn’t say. I’ve seen others describing the dialogue as “theatrical” and I completely see where they are coming from.
There are many characters in this book, but the author only focuses on Leonie and Korren. This is a problem, as both characters don’t give a strong impression to the reader. I was disappointed that there were so many side characters that Leonie dismissed, so the readers lose a chance to learn about the world and how it works. Side characters are a really important part of any book, and I hate when they’re written off as unimportant.
I also think that Girl of Myth and Legend had a huge problem being a first-person fantasy novel. Of course, I expect that there will be a suddenly special protagonist, a hidden world, magical powers, problems with said magical world…I do expect it, really. But I also expect that at some point the book will attempt to turn this around and make me realize that there’s something different or special about this book to make me really excited to finish it and possibly continue the series. It faltered a lot as it tried to do this. Granted, I did finish it. But I can’t really put my finger on why, because I’m not sure there’s a concrete reason. Perhaps if the novel had been in third-person (or focused instead on Korren, his past, and his drive), it would have succeeded as a fantasy novel.
Instead, because it was a first-person book, there was a ton of telling. I wanted to see more instead of getting the blow by blow from Leonie. It gave me a weird feeling while reading because even though it’s in first-person and therefore we get Leonie’s thoughts, it’s written in a way that an author would use to tell the reader things as if the book had been written in third-person. It was really odd. I can only describe this as Leonie having third-person thoughts in a first-person body. I also struggle reading books that have an obsession to describe the protagonist and the characters around them in minute detail. I find it odd when characters look into a mirror only to describe their looks; does anyone look into a mirror and say “I have brown hair and green eyes”? It’s easier to describe the protagonist and others in third person, but it’s also possible to do it in a way that isn’t forced in first-person: “I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, my brown hair wild from the wind.” I could go on, but know that this went on any time a new character or enemy came into the picture.
Girl of Myth and Legend is a book that is firmly in the okay book category, yet it reached a point where I couldn’t stop reading. As telling and lackluster as the writing was, the story that was all muddled up in that was actually quite interesting. It would have been better if Leonie’s introduction to the Duwyn world hadn’t focused so heavily on exposition and focused instead on her learning about the world through action and her own growth. Even though I did like the story, it wasn’t enough to make me want to read the next in this series, even if I was able to get it for free at my library. I can’t really honestly say I’d recommend this as a book to read for fantasy lovers because there’s much better books out there that do similar things.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.