Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Review: Longbow Girl by Linda Davies

Longbow Girl by Linda Davies


Publisher: The Chicken House
Publish Date: February 26 2016 (Published earlier outside of the US!)
Page Amount: 336 pages
Price: $17.99 Hardback
ISBN: 0545853451 (ISBN13: 9780545853453)
Longbow Girl follows Merry Owen, a girl living in the 21st century who still feels a strange connection to her past. She has a massive amount of talent with her longbow, which she has been training with since she was five years of age. After a horrific incident that left her with the use of only one of her eyes, she is now home-schooled and doesn’t have many friends, except for James, a boy her age that lives in the land next to hers. There is only one problem with that; James comes from the de Courcy family, and a feud has been brewing between the Owen and the de Courcy family for over 500 years. But when the two go on an adventure, and find something particularly interesting from their past, both Merry and James’ skills and friendship are put to the test.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. It definitely wasn’t the best book that I have ever read, but it wasn't the worst book either. I enjoyed reading the story and getting to know the characters, but there were moments when the story wasn't paced right- it was either going way too fast or it was dragging a bit too long.

I felt like I was being told information that I didn’t really need to know, or the plot was moving by so quickly that a lot of the characterization and development of the story was going over my head. This was more of an issue in the beginning 100 or so pages of the book, but after that, the pacing picks up and it is a much easier read!

I did enjoy getting to know the characters as well. I was worried when I began this book that, because Merry is involved in archery and loves to practice it, that the book would become very saturated with content about archery, and that I wouldn’t be able to relate to Merry as well. I don’t practice archery and I was worried that this would be a source of disconnect for me and the characters. On the contrary, I found that the book has tons of archery content but it was explained very well when it needed to be. I didn’t think that this interfered with my “relationship”, so to speak, with Merry.

James was the other main character in the book that I connected with. He is best friends with Merry, and, although he doesn’t share Merry’s interest in archery, has a lot of distinct characteristics that make him unique. In the book, he struggles with deciding whether or not he wants to side with his parents or make his own independent decisions for his own well-being. This is a struggle that I definitely relate to and I am happy to see a character struggling with this as well. For this reason I would also say that James is a very relatable character!

I also loved this book for the Welsh and historical knowledge that is tied into it. I liked the almost “folklore”-ish element of Merry’s story, and I like how the folklore within the book tied in with the rest of the story as a whole. I also love that King Henry was tied into the story too, and it offered a little bit of insight on that time period. I definitely would not call this book historical fiction, but I liked seeing that aspect. I think the historical knowledge and the presentation of it added depth to the story and the conflict itself.

I also loved that this book had elements from the 21st Century and elements of the past as well. I don’t want to say much more than that, because I think it is best to go into this book only slightly blind. I think it was nice to tie in history to today. I like that the characters were familiar with cellphones and computers, but Welsh history still played a massive part in the story.

I do think that this could have been done a little bit better. At least, I kept forgetting that these characters were in the 21st century, and also, I felt that this could have been made a little clearer in the beginning of the book that these characters were not leaving in an older century! With the descriptions of the castle, and Merry’s family history, I believed originally that this was not in the 21st century but was mainly set in a historical time period.

The book does help to clarify this in the second half of the book with numerous references. After looking at the first part of the book over again, it is mentioned but I think with all of the character history and other events happening in the first part of the book, it is very difficult (at least for me) to figure this out. Granted, the summary of the book didn’t mention that they were in the 21st century at the time of the ARC printing. I don’t think it was that big of a problem, it was just something I struggled with understanding. But, I really love the premise of having the 21st century and history intertwined, and I think it was done pretty well. I think it was more of a struggle in terms of me as an individual reader.

This book is for ages 12 and up, though there are some uses of explicit language within the book. The terminology in this book is very age appropriate and the historical references are explained very well. (This book does mention King Henry VIII and how he murdered his wives, but it does so very lightly and you can easily block out these details or screen them for young children if you deem it necessary.)

Overall I do have to say that I really enjoyed this read. I am not sure what the summary on the finished copy of the book looks like, but I would definitely go into this book blind if you want to be surprised! (In the press release for the ARC, there was a small piece of information that gave away a bit of the story itself. It didn’t completely spoil it but it took away a bit of the “aha moment”!)

I cannot wait to read the other two books in the trilogy when they come out!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

FTC Disclaimer: I received this ARC in exchange for review consideration. This does not affect my review of the book. All of my thoughts and opinions are honest and my own. I received this book from Miss Print’s ARC Adoption Webpage. Thank you so much! 

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