Wednesday, November 27, 2013

(W)REC(K) A BOOK: Wanted

Perhaps time and distance are the best antidotes for a vengeful heart. Nope, that's a lie. The pig must die.

The Princess: Happily ever after? Zaina doesn't believe in it. Now revenge on the other hand... All she has to do is: cut her hair, dress up as a boy, call herself Little John, join the traveling circus, guard her soul against the evil sorceress, battle dragons and avoid the lethal tip of the mysterious Lord Hood's blade. It's perfectly easy. Oh, but don't forget the potion, the one that's intended for the villain who ruined her. It ends up in the wrong hands, causing everyone to fall in love with her except the one she desires most.

The Outlaw: If there is one thing Lord Hood is good at, it's sniffing out a lie. And the newest member of his troupe, the lad Little John, is lying about something. Hood just has to figure out what. In the meantime, he will continue to steal from the rich and give to the poor and evade the bounty hunters who pursue him. For one day soon he will return home to avenge the murder of his betrothed and perhaps that will ease the dark stain upon his heart.
- Goodreads


D.L. Snow writes a fine tale centering around Zaina aka Little John and Lord Hood. Sound familiar? I loved going on the adventure with Zaina and coming across small references to other childhood fairy tales.

In this first installment, Princess Zaina is returning from her betrothal's kingdom because the bastard had snuck into her room and deflowered her, only to then turn around and claim her impure the next morning. As a result, she is to face her shame before her kingdom and then be beheaded. The rage she feels for her foolishness is deep, but she refuses to go down quietly, and so fakes her death so that she may go back to the kingdom of Lorentia and kill the heartless Prince Cahill who'd ruined her life. She comes across Lord Hood after disguising herself as a boy, but instead of being killed, she's taken into his group as his little helper. Hood knows she's lying, but with technical truths, he can't figure 'him' out. Hood reminds her of a gargoyle with his too sharp and deformed features, but his black eyes are memorizing, and her reluctance to cower under his gaze both fascinates and wearies him.

She grows to like the rest of the group, all men who sing and perform plays for the villages they visit. They make a trip to a poor land near the kingdom in which her dear cousin Wilhelmina resides. At first Zaina fears going to Dunvale within the kingdom of Dunvegan, a place where dragons are said to be born and its occupants are mining dwarfs with jewel-colored eyes who must always give their findings to the King Elwood. While the men practice for a show, Hood sneaks out in disguise to seek a witch for sleeping powder. However, instead of a witch he finds another, more powerful one with unusual height and red ruby eyes. She makes him promise to come back after his travels, and once he gets his powder, he leaves, though not before hearing the witch murmur his true name and title.

On the day of production, a young player who acts as a girl is unable to go on when his voice finally breaks. So they make Zaina do it, and they put on the play for the dwarfs. The play is about Niviea, a beautiful girl who is taken in by dwarfs, only to be later poisoned with an apple by a hag and placed in a coffin where the dwarfs watch over her until a prince comes and falls in love with her. Very Snow White, hmm? :) Zaina improvises a little when her prince tries to kiss her, but she's a huge hit with the audience, something that shocks Hood and the others, as they've never had a reaction before. Hood later finds out why, though, when the mayor shows him why he, in his hag costume, is so despised. Niviea is real, and she is a sleeping blonde beauty under a spell. Zaina and Much, one of the men of their group, come across 'Niviea' only for Zaina to realize that it is her cousin, Wilhelmina. Much seems a little distracted whenever he looks upon the sleeping Mina. Subtle hint for a future book, perhaps?

Zaina and Much discovered her bespelled cousin because she was ordered to do a census on the village, but she mistakes Hood's orders as a trick to rob the poor people of whatever else they have. She tells the mayor about the deceit when she later catches them with riches, but then she finds out that they were giving the village riches, not stealing from them.

Oops.

Now they're on the run from the king's guards that the mayor called, but when Hood gets shot by an arrow, Zaina goes back to the witch he first sought out. The witch helps Zaina out, but she knows her true identity and tells her that Hood must never find out who she is. Zaina doesn't understand, but if she does ever tell him, he and the rest of their group will die. So she heeds the witch's words, gets healing aid and a love potion for her vengeance and rushes back to Hood's side. She runs into some soldiers along the way and gets saved by a dragon when one of them tries to rape her. She saves Hood in time by applying the ointment, but at her cousin's kingdom's borders, she almost gets found out when the captain of the guard mistakes her for Wilhelmina. They're all safe now as they head to lands where no one will hopefully think to look, but a moment alone with a sleeping Hood in the wagon results in her finding out that he wears a wax mask- and once she peels it off and starts having her way with him (hmm) he joins in while still under the influence of a dream. He wakes up and is horrified at doing what he did with Little John and forces her out, but while running, she gets caught by one of the guys, Arther Bland. Her secret as a woman is now exposed.

Meanwhile with Hood, he's distraught at the sexual things he'd done with Little John. He was abused by his uncle as a lad and so feels very disgusted with himself. But worse yet is the fact that Little John has seen his face, and now that he knows who he is, he decides that John must die.

And that's how it ends! What a tease. T_T So as you can see, a lot happens in this book, and there's more to the story that I didn't talk about. I liked the little things it teaches you as well, like how back then only men were allowed to be players, which is why Zaina is forced to play the princess instead of their cook's daughter. The characters were likable, Zaina grew while with the merry crowd and Hood was just a hot guy to read about, really. XD Very mysterious. I so desperately wanted him to find out about Zaina, but apparently that doesn't happen 'til the second book. T_T

Overall, it's a nice read. I liked reading the story and wondering if this was a Snow White reference, or one for Sleeping Beauty. I know I'm not crazy when I say Tweedle and Deedle, non-related twins who are a part of the merry group, are definitely small allusions to Alice in Wonderland. I'm sure of it!

I recommend this to those who love old-time settings and fantasy with a bit of sexual tension-and-release scenes. I enjoyed the style of writing and how it matched the setting. Again, I can't wait to read the next one.

Happy Reading :)


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