Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Venturess by Betsy Cornwell

Venturess by Betsy Cornwell
Release Date -  August 1, 2017
Publisher Website - Clarion
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  320 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

**possible spoilers for book one** 
**update: this is meant to be read as a direct sequel**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Happily ever after is just the beginning.

Nicolette’s Cinderella story is over, and she’s finally living her own fairy tale happy ending. She’s a successful inventor now, free of her horrible stepfamily, and content in her loving friendship with Caro, a palace servant, and Fin, the prince of Esting.

Then she receives a message from her long-lost housekeeper, now a revolutionary, begging her to bring the prince to Faerie for a diplomatic meeting. Nicolette fears a trap, but decides that the chance to end the bloody war waged by their kingdom is worth the risk.

Together with Fin and Caro, she ventures across the monster-filled ocean to the lush continent she’s always dreamed of visiting. There, mechanical armies and dark magic await as they uncover devastating secrets about the past and fight for a real, lasting happily-ever-after for two troubled countries—and themselves.
I was sold on this book by being told it was a fantasy novel that featured a polyamorous relationship. I was intrigued enough to want to check out the book and found  within it a wonderful story filled with steampunk, delightful characters, and faerie lore that I was interested in.

This is technically the second book in a series, so there may be some spoilers for the first book. I have not read it so I am not sure what is a huge spoiler for the first novel, and will try to keep them minimal. I had been told that I could read this book as a stand alone, and I believe that is true. I also believe, however, that by not reading Mechanica I missed some of the nuance and breadcrumbs this story offered. I was able to piece together that the first was a retelling of the Cinderella tale, and this is what happens after the tale we know. I understood this story in its entirety, but am going to recommend people read the first one so they don't miss the nods in this installment. It'll make for a richer, more statisfying experience.

This is a book that has been described as having 'on the page polyamory' and that definition, for me, holds true. Nick, Fin, and Caro love each other equally and fully. They love one another without jealousy or question. I could not imagine the three of them not loving each other, and neither could they. This book, for me, read as rather tame as there is not a whole lot of physical displays of affection between the trio. There is an innocence to their relationship that read as middle grade at times, but it really worked for the story being told. I appreciated the author crafting a relationship where the people involved showed their affections in different ways. It showcases that it is not just physical displays that can showcase love.

The characterization is one of my favourite elements of this story. The author is able to make you care about all of them so easily. This even extends to some magical friends Nick has that add a steampunk element to the story. You care about all of them, and that makes the book resonate all the more. I was taken by surprised by how attached I had become to these characters and was left quite emotional because of this.

The fey mythology within this story felt really unique to me. They do not use gender specific pronouns and instead use 'fer' and 'fe'. They do not have a defined gender. I was not aware of this aspect to the story before opening the book, and think it might be something that would appeal to other readers. I also loved the way that their mythology tied into Nick's story arc, and the heartbreaking truth she discovers. It made the fey elements of the story work for me in a way that a lot of previous fey based stories have not.

I would recommend this one for those looking for a new fantasy meets steampunk fix. I'll more than satisfy that particular itch, and offers up a fantastic main character as a bonus. I am definitely intrigued enough to want to pick up Mechanica and see how this story began.

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