Alethea Kontis – Hero
Read my review of book:
Length: 304 pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Started: 14 February 2014
Finished: 24 February 2014
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I found Enchanted charming and fun, so I was game for the second book.
Saturday craved an
adventure, but this is more
than she bargained for.
Summary: Saturday Woodcutter has three things: an good appreciation of a hard day’s work, a magical sword that is sometimes an axe, and a desire for adventure. Her sisters all seem to be the ones with magic and talent and special destinies. But then Saturday gets her first taste of magic, and accidentally breaks the world, bringing the sea to the door of the Woodcutter’s cabin. Saturday leaves with her sister Thursday on her pirate ship, but that’s just the start of the adventure… soon Saturday finds herself trapped in a cave in a mountain at the top of the world, held prisoner by a witch, and forced into the company of Peregrine, a young man pretending to be the witch’s daughter, and Betwixt, his shapeshifting companion. Saturday wants to escape, but breaking the witch’s power may have consequences that will prove more dire than the captivity itself.
Review: I have a lot of the same complaints about this book that I had about Enchanted, but I found a lot of the same things about it enjoyable, as well. Hero, like Enchanted, has a lot of stuff going on, a lot of really disparate elements, and they all happen kind of right on top of one another, with not enough space to really breathe or develop fully. A lot of stuff happens all in a rush, particularly at the beginning and end of the book, and it lead to me not fully understanding things like how the witch’s magic worked, which was a fairly important piece of the story. And although there sere some great moments, and all of the various elements were interesting on their own, I was also less clear where they all were coming from – in Enchanted, part of the fun was picking out all of the various fairy tale references and how they were worked in; Hero was drawing on sort of the generalized hero/quest format type of story, but not on any particular source material that I could recognize.
One thing I did love just as much as ever were the characters. Saturday’s great; she looks at her sisters and their ballgowns and their running off to become princesses and is like “Pfft, no thanks,” which is awesome.
“To Saturday, falling in love was a nonsense never hoped for. Love and marriage and family would mean the end of her adventuring. She had only just begun to live her life outside the towerhouse. So far, that life had been full of swords and witches and life-or-death decisions. Kissing had no place there. And yet, Saturday couldn’t bring to mind a tale about Jack in which he’d banished evil or bested a beast without winning the heart of some girl in the end. Saturday sighed. Did romance *have* to be part of the adventure? It just seemed so unnecessary and distracting.” –Location 1648
I liked Peregrine as well; he seemed like a good mix of sweet and sarcastic and smart – like most of my favorite protagonists, let’s be honest. There’s also some interesting gender dynamics at play, since Peregrine is enchanted so that he resembles the witch’s daughter, and is used to (if maybe not so far as “comfortable”) dressing and acting as a girl, while Saturday is mistaken for her older brother Jack. My one reservation I have with Peregrine is how quickly he falls in love with Saturday, and how completely, when she’s still not even sure she likes him much. I realize that kind of thing happens, and Kontis does acknowledge the weirdness of “I loved you before I met you” from Saturday’s point of view, but that uneven emotional dynamic made their relationship somewhat less romantic and less compelling for me. It kind of made me wish Saturday had stuck to her guns re: romance being an unnecessary distraction.
“Saturday touched the closest cave painting, wondering how it felt to love someone so completely, for so long. The sheer grandeur of his passion made her feel small. She wasn’t sure her own meager feelings would ever measure up to this obsession.” –Location 2424
(If it makes you feel smaller than you are, that’s not love!)
The one thing I did love unabashedly was the characters’ interactions with each other. Saturday and Peregrine are good foils for each other, Saturday and Peregrine and Betwixt together made me laugh fairly frequently, but Saturday and her family were the parts I loved the most. Their love for each other, and the comfortable family dynamic always comes across really clearly, and was just utterly charming and fun. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Overall, it’s a fun adventure with some interesting characters and a lot of cool elements, even if they can be a bit of a jumble. Recommended for YA readers who are also fairy tale fans.
“We do not live here. We merely exist. And we would have gone on doing so while the dragon slept, but it is not a life. Lives have suns and seasons. Lives have happiness and sadness and birth and death.” He lifted his wings to make great shadows on the walls. “Time rises up here to die. Down there is where it is lived, felt, and remembered.” –Location 1624
First Line: “OH, HOORAY! It’s you!”
Vocab: (see the whole list)
- Location 843: “From beneath her brightly colored kerchief, Thursday pulled several strands of hair and handed them to Saturday. The bits of titian curled around her fingers.” – a bright golden brown color.
- Location 1543: “A pauldron of brownie teeth followed the mushrooms.” – either of two metal plates worn with armour to protect the shoulders.
- Location 1545: “He dumped out a poleyn of dried seeds he’d been saving.” – a piece of armour for protecting the knee.
- Location 1972: ““You are not a chalice or an athame, an inert object with no say in how you are used.”” – a witch’s ceremonial knife, usually with a black handle, used in rituals rather than for cutting or carving.
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