Hey all, Dani here.
What is rather amusing about today’s post is that my original plan was to review the second book of this series, which I just read during my JanJamJarReadathon…but then I looked at my list of books to review and saw that I actually hadn’t reviewed the first book yet. So my review for the second book will be coming later in the month.
So one of the things I love about the bookish community is the opportunity to recommend books to people who generally appreciate the recommendations. This series is one that Kathy at Books and Munches was absolutely raving about and hyping up last year. And I’ve come to respect it when Kathy recommends a book, so hearing her speak so highly about this book made me really want to read it. I pretty much immediately bought the first two books. Now there are five released books, so I need to go on another book buy, because yes, they are great reads and I definitely plan to keep C.E. Clayton on my authors to support list.
Okay, enough pre-review gushing. Let’s get started.
Monsters come in many forms, and not everyone knows a monster when they see one. After three hundred years of monstrous, feral elves plaguing the island nation of Selkirk, everyone believes they know what a monster is. Humans have learned to live with their savage neighbors, enacting a Clearing every four years to push the elves back from their borders. The system has worked for centuries, until after one such purge, a babe was found in the forest.
As Tallis grows, she discovers she isn’t like everyone else. There is something a little different that makes people leery in her presence, and she only ever makes a handful of friends.
But when the elves gather their forces and emerge from the forests literally hissing Tallis’s name like a battle mantra, making friends is the least of her troubles. Tallis and her companions find themselves on an unwilling journey to not only clear her name, but to stop the elves from ravaging her homeland.
Rating: 4.5 stars
So I suppose the only reason I knocked this book down from 5 stars to 4.5 stars is because it took a little bit for the adventure aspect of the story to get started. Time was spent getting the reader used to the characters, the setting, and all of that lovely worldbuilding setup. It made for slightly slow reading, but I was still very interested in learning everything I could in case it had important relevance later in the story.
And I have to say that a story with feral elves is one that felt pretty unique. Typically stories that have the elfin race tend to make them aloof, beautiful, dangerous, cunning, and arrogant. Not so with The Monster of Selkirk series. These elves are very primal and animalistic, and it makes the story wonderful and dark. In this series you often hear humans referring to the elves as Tremps, which really just feels like a derogatory name for the race…but understandable considering how many humans have been massacred because of them.
Tallis is an oddball, an outsider, and a bit mysterious. Her mother loves her greatly, but her father is frankly an absolute ass. Because Tallis was found in the forest and adopted by his wife, he tolerates her because of the love he feels for the woman he married. You definitely can’t say that he really acts as a father to her.
Thankfully Tallis has a few friends to make up for the loneliness. First is her cousin Donovan, who learns to fight and actually becomes a guard/soldier. He actually teaches Tallis as well…and I enjoy their sparring sessions, and then the fight scenes throughout the book. Then there’s Rosslyn, who is from a wandering clan type of people who don’t exactly follow the law of land, but instead the law of their people. Rosslyn is also a bit of a troublemaker and a pick-pocket. She befriends Tallis pretty quickly and I think she is such a fun character. Finally there’s Tomas, who Tallis meets at the church where he is training to be a monk. Tomas is a tinkerer and inventor, which I found to be fascinating. Through the events of the book, Tomas ends up walking away from his training and joining Tallis and friends on an adventure.
And what an adventure it is. I really don’t want to get into specifics because I try to avoid giving out too much, especially if I think it is a bit spoilery. But I will say that there is action, there is bickering, there is a hint of romance, and quite a bit of traveling.
Oh and I can say that I also predicted why Tallis was so unique, though it wasn’t outright revealed until the second book. It had no bearing on my enjoyment of the books though, because the descriptive writing totally consumed me.
I can say that I would recommend this for fans of Dungeons & Dragons as well as fantasy lovers in general. I would probably classify Tallis as a ranger, Donovan as a fighter, Rosslyn as a rogue, and Tomas as an artificer. These books do actually feel like lower level characters heading out on a quest.