Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Bells of Paradise, by Suzannah Rowntree: Upcoming Release!

If you're looking for a brand new book to bring a bright spot to your week, look no further! This Saturday, Suzannah Rowntree will release another of her fairy tale novellas on February 27th, a retelling of Jorinda and Joringel entitled The Bells of Paradise. She's the fantastic author of Pendragon's Heir and The Prince of Fishes, and today I have the pleasure of reviewing an advance copy of her latest release!

(Side note--isn't this cover gorgeous? I love the deep blue. So pretty!)

The Book 
Only a madman would go into Faerie of his own accord.

The one thing John the blacksmith loves more than his peaceful, hardworking life in Middleton Dale is the tailor's free-spirited daughter Janet. But unlike John, Janet dreams of adventure beyond the Dale. And when her dreams lead her into Faerie to be captured by a dangerous witch, John realises he must dare the perilous realm of the Lordly Folk to free his bride.

A poignant and profound retelling of the Grimms' fairytale Jorinda and Joringel, set in the fantastical realms of Elizabethan folklore. Novella, approximately 25,000 words.

My Thoughts 
Most introvert characters are either geeky nerds or tormented souls on the rack of an anguished life. John is neither, so he's unique in the literary world of introverts. He's a steady fellow who wants a normal, unchanged, uninterrupted life: subject to quiet pleasures, a honorable work ethic, and an occasional fit of resentment when his ideal world is disturbed. He's someone I love, because he captures the lesser known kind of introverts who could live and die quite happily without doing anything terribly earth-shattering. 

The thing about John is, he doesn't know why these humble aspirations comprise greatness. He does them because that's what he prefers, and that's the end of it. There is nothing wrong with an obscure man. But there is something very much wrong with a man who uses that obscurity for comfort rather than for the glory of God. A trip to Faerie catapults him into facing his blind spots and gaining the vision he lacks. I appreciated the authentic portrayal of his struggle with adventure and love.

The side characters make a vivid tapestry for John and Janet to interact with: the carefree Lettice, unimaginative Ned, vivid queen Gloriana, and evil Sir Calidore. With novellas every glimpse of a character counts, and every character in this story is different, deftly drawn, and used to the best advantage. My favorite side character was sad-hearted, grey-gowned Columbell. 

Also, the description in this novella is some of the best I think Suzannah has had yet. She's always been a good writer, but it's natural to see authors gain skill from story to story. From the scene where John and Janet are walking in the forest, to the eerily beautiful Unicorn and the nighttime chase in Faerie, to John's home village seen through new eyes, all are delightful to read. 

The Bells of Paradise gave me an evening of wonder and adventure. It's about the price of a cup of coffee, and gives you soul food that lasts much longer. Mark your calendars for Saturday and pick up this exciting new release! 

I received an advance copy of the ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

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