Crystal Bones Hardcover – Apr 1 2011
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About the Author
C. Aubrey Hall lives in Norman, Oklahoma
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Diello and Cynthe are fraternal twins and considered Faelin because their mother Lywneth is a Fae and their father Stephel is a human. With this the case, there are some milestones in the twins' lives that follow Fae milestones and others that follow humans'.
One of these milestones is the twins' thirteenth birthday. This is when they are to realize any Fae powers they have, and, in the Fae world, acceptance as adult Fae. But the twins, being Faelin, don't really fit into either world, and the birthday is not a happy one. In fact, it goes horribly wrong.
They are sent on an errand, and when they return they find their parents murdered, their farmstead destroyed, and Amalina kidnapped. Their Fae powers are starting to develop, but Diello's gift - Crystal Bones, or the ability to sense magic nearby - is not the one he hoped for.
So, on their own, they must survive, find Amalina, and find where other trustworthy (key word here!) adult relatives are. Their only help comes from a talking wolf puppy named Vassou and an uneducated outcast goblin boy named Scree.
I have read both this novel and the second in the series, "The Call of Eiran." In both, I particularly liked the Welsh flavor the author has given some of the proper names and the fact that the youngsters call Lwyneth Mamee. The one thing I did not like about the two novels considered together is the rather slow pace of the plot. Even though I unintentionally read "Eiran" first, I definitely feel now like I didn't miss anything by doing so. All in all, though, I'll be keeping my eyes open for more in this series and can recommend it for fantasy readers, particularly those about the same age as the twins of this story.
The characters, Diello and Cynthe, are thirteen year old twins who are half-human and half-Fae. The book opens up on their birthday, when they're supposed to come into their wondrous Fae powers. That celebration is put on hold, though, because the family runs a struggling farm and those chores can't be put off, which bums out both twins. They do manage to get one break when their mom sends them to Lord Malque to deliver a banquet cloth she's made.
I felt a lot of sympathy for Diello and Cynthe in the beginning when their important birthday doesn't go as planned, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. That day turns out much worse, and that was when the hook on this read was firmly planted.
Hall progresses into the story, mixing in hints of the Fae culture as well as the day-to-day medieval life, and one bad thing turns into a worse one. As if surviving a goblin attack that burns down their farm isn't bad enough, the people the twins turn to for help end up making their lives even worse and their continued existence doubtful, as well as taking away their baby sister.
The twins are well drawn, and there is a definite role reversal. Diello is the one with common sense, while Cynthe is the hothead. She's more athletic than her brother, too. Yet together they make a good team.
The magic in this book is subdued, just touches rather than a major force. Even so, I was surprised when the two cross paths with a talking wolf that gives her life to protect them, then hints at the dark secrets their parents have hidden all their lives.
Although the first book doesn't cover much physical territory, I get the feeling there is a whole, wide world awaiting in the next book, and I can't wait to read it. The foundations of a lot of mysteries are laid in this novel, and there are several cliffhangers as well. Readers looking for an absorbing and gripping fantasy read for will be in good hands with Crystal Bones.
It all starts the night before the twins' thirteenth birthday when Diello hears a voice in the storm calling his mother. This is, of course, foreshadowing into their parents' deep dark past, as mentioned in the blurb. Diello is then disappointed when his father gives him a useful gift for his birthday rather than the traditional fun present and both twins are sent out to do their chores unlike any previous birthday they've had. The first few chapters seem to be pretty well dedicated to reminding the reader that growing up sucks. There are however magic herbs in the morning milk which apparently get the fae either high or drunk and the fair is that day. But they're told not to go because of the dangers of being around humans. It follows that an errand for their mother leads them right into the thick of the fair and straight towards danger! The deck is stacked against our heroes, will they survive and figure out the mysteries surrounding their parents' pasts or are they doomed to failure?
I'm going to say right off the bat that I got caught up in Crystal Bones about halfway through, where the meat of the story started. Up until then had been mostly lead up, background, and foreshadowing which, while necessary to the overall plot, wasn't particularly different from any other coming of age fantasy novel that I've read. There were also some points where it felt like Cynthe could have been omitted from the book, while both twins were billed as the heroes in the blurb it is very much Diello centric. She does get some moments of awesomeness but, all told, could have been removed in favor of making Diello a bit more three dimensional. Hall also seems to think that if humans hating half fae isn't mentioned every time the twins run into a human the reader will forget. This leads to a ton of fantasy racism which can make the book a bit hard to read at times. Crystal Bones gets better as it goes, once I got to the meat of the story I was hooked. Unfortunately it also cuts off rather abruptly in an almost painful sequel hook, leaving a rather unsatisfying ending and a year long wait to find out what happens.
As a final note before I rate it, Crystal Bones seems to be Hall's first novel so I'm sure that most of the kinks will be worked out for the second book. It's also worth noting that, any issues aside, I did enjoy the book it's just that most of what I enjoyed probably constitutes spoilers and I don't want to ruin anything for other readers. That said, I give it a three out of five and a note to myself to keep an eye out for the next one.
The series will be complete next week and I hope that children of all ages will read these books and pass them on to others.
**UPDATE: June 2013: After much contemplation, I have decided to change how I rate the books I read. I feel that this is necessary for two primary reasons; there are too many high rated reviews from "SP's and or friends of the author. Secondly, we are limited by Amazon's rating system which I feel needs to be changed but until then this is my only option. My standards for the stars, (noted in the title of review), are shown below:**
5 STARS: This will be for books that I consider outstanding, meaning that I will keep the version I have to reread again.
4 STARS: Books I would have previously rated as 5 will be 4.50 or higher and books under 4.50 will be the same as Amazon's 4 (I Like It).
3 STARS: Books I would have previously rated as 4 will be 3.50 or higher; books under 3.50: will be the same as Amazon's 3 (It's OK, recommend).
2 STARS: Books I would have previously rated as 3 will be 2.50 or higher; books under 2.50: it was good enough to finish, not recommend.
1 STAR: Books I would have previously rated as 2 will be 1.50 or higher; books under 1.50: I didn't like it, but eventually I finished it; books under 1.50: I hated it and may not have finished it, not recommend.
4.50 ** Receiving this book through Amazon's Vine Program did not influence my rating or review of this book; all opinions are my own**.
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