Title: The Radiant Road
Author: Katherine Catmull
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: January 19, 2016
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
ISBN-10: 0525953477 (Penguin Teen)
ISBN-13: 978-0525953470 (Penguin Teen)
Reviewed by: Kaitlin
After years of living in America, Clare Macleod and her father are returning to Ireland, where they’ll inhabit the house Clare was born in—a house built into a green hillside with a tree for a wall. For Clare, the house is not only full of memories of her mother, but also of a mysterious boy with raven-dark hair and dreamlike nights filled with stars and magic. Clare soon discovers that the boy is as real as the fairy-making magic, and that they’re both in great danger from an ancient foe.
Quick & Dirty: A melodic, lush story overflowing with Irish folklore.
Opening Sentence: Clare was a strange girl, solitary and shy.
Clare Macledod is not an ordinary girl. She grew up in a home within an immense yew tree, only one of the generations of girls to be born into the legacy. After the death of her mother, she and her father has traveled the globe, not putting down roots, not staying anywhere too long. But it’s time for them to return. Clare’s visions of the Strange, unexplainable fairy magic-makings, cannot be pushed aside any longer, and she must discover her heritage to defeat a dark foe that threatens more than her world.
This novel was written in a way that I almost can’t describe. I found the prose to be melodic, musical, absolutely gorgeous. I could compare it to Lainey Taylor’s style – an odd, haunting diction. I hadn’t read any of Catmull’s previous works before starting this novel, so I was altogether a blank slate, but I was impressed by how unique her writing style was. It weaves together all the elements of your regular YA fantasy, but somehow makes them more rich and lush than one could expect. The setting, the characters, the symbols, all were eclectic and odd and beautiful.
Clare was the main character of this novel, and I adored her from the ways she differed from the cookie-cutter YA heroine. Despite the magic and the fae that crowded the pages of this novel, Clare and her companions seemed incredibly realistic and altogether relatable. She has doubts, she has flaws, she makes mistakes – some much worse than others. But she picks up, she moves on, she grows. Watching her develop was a lot of fun. After all, she started by trying to reject the Strange, but by the end of the story she has embraced and used it.
To be honest, I thought that Clare’s development and the characters overshadowed the main plotline at times, which I actually wasn’t bothered by. The antagonist, Balor, was introduced pretty much off the bat, and as terrifying as he was written to seem, I often got lost in Clare’s learning of the fae world and forgot what was really at stake. It was sometimes hard to truly grasp certain concepts of this story – the totem, the making, the beasts – but you learn to just roll with it. If you don’t think about it too hard than everything makes perfect sense.
Altogether, I think this novel was breathtaking and a lot of fun to read. Every time I read a book, I will mark pages that I think have particularly meaningful or well-done passages for the “notable scene” in the review. Usually I end up with one or two at most, but this novel was so crowded with bookmarks that in the end I just chose one at random. I liked how the romance of this book didn’t overcome the plot or the development: truth be told, it was a very minor part of the story. My only minor complaint was I thought Balor could have been given couple more sides to his character, or more attention to his backstory. Nevertheless, all the characters were interesting and complex, and the plotline itself was entirely its own, which can be hard to find in novels these days. Lovers of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I encourage you to give this one a try.
As she slept, the rain swirled protectively around this gate, and the stones cradled her close to the earth. She never knew that the portentous wind had said “your enemy comes” or that the rushing rain had saved her. She never knew how less than a thousand yards away, Balor had stood in a muddy field, rain pouring down the back of his neck, cursing; how he had turned back. Clare was pursued, but the world bent itself to foil her pursuer.
FTC Advisory: Dutton Books for Young Readers/Penguin provided me with a copy of The Radiant Road. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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