Published by HarperTeen on February 11, 2014
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Emrys—a fiery, red-headed Fae—always embraced her life in the Highlands, far from the city’s draining technology, until she’s sent to London to rejoin the Faery Guard. But this isn’t any normal assignment—she’s sent to guard Prince Richard: Britain’s notorious, partying bad boy and soon-to-be King. The prince’s careless ways and royal blood make him the irresistible for the dark spirits that feed on mortals. Sweet, disheveled, and alive with adventure—Richard is one charge who will put Emrys’s magic and heart to the test.
When an ancient force begins preying on the monarchy, Emrys must hunt through the London’s magical underworld, facing down Banshees, Black Dogs and Green Women to find the one who threatens Richard’s life. In this chaos of dark magic, palace murders and paparazzi, Emrys finds herself facing an impossible choice. For despite all her powers, Emrys has discovered a force that burns brighter than magic: love.
I’ll admit that I am partially to blame for what happened here. I read the premise, and I thought this would be a reverse Jane Eyre–or at the very least a reverse Twilight–with, you know, like a billion-year-old lady who falls in love with a teenage boy. I thought the power dynamics would be knocked on their tiny heads. I thought this bad-ass Fae warrior would have to make some tough choices about a humble soldier’s worthiness as a match for a prince. Basically I wanted She-Hector.
And that’s all on me. Totally, no sarcasm, my fault. I know that the thing I wanted can’t really work in a young adult romance novel. I get it. Young women tend to be more mature than young men, so the popular fantasy is of an older dude (who doesn’t look creepily older). It really is super appealing. And your audience (teenage girls) needs to relate to your protagonist. Teenage girls are insecure and awkward. They are terrified of absolutely everything. They think 18-year-old boys (or boys who WILL be 18 in 21 days, and THEN they’ll also be KING) are really freaking cool.
But this fairy chick is hundreds of years old. She can afford to wear absolutely anything she likes. She can change her appearance whenever she wants to because she is magical (right now she’s a redhead). She is an amazing enough soldier that she’s been assigned to guard the human crown prince against magical attacks.
Why. Why on earth. I mean–what does she see in this dude? He’s just a vanilla pudding nothing of a human being. He’s awful. He’s a Prince Freaking Harry. He goes to clubs and sits in a booth getting drunk with his lame friends like some frat boy dumb-dumb.
And our girl falls in love with HIM? Because, what, he’s the only human who can see through her dumb fairy shield? Are you fucking kidding me? He’s an idiot. A TEENAGED idiot. And she decides she’s in love with him and sits in his dumb bar booth like some silly ornament, treating all the age-appropriate chicks who are interested in him like worthless sluts, giving them nicknames like “Eyeliner” and “Mousy Hair?” Get over yourself. Other women are not the enemy, no matter how much cleavage they show. God, I hate you, Emrys. You are the worst.
Oh, the other reason she’s in love with the prince–this is great–is that she gets hit on by a SUPER drunk dude in the restroom, and she loses her head (don’t get me started, I am SO angry), and Drunky McPrinceling punches the dude in the face. And rescues her. Magical warrior lady. Hundreds of years old. Elite fighting force. Five percent into the book. Scared of a drunk guy. In love with a child.
Oh, and the lady’s name is Emrys, right? So guess what the dumb prince’s dumb nick-name for her is? Guess. No, really, guess. It’s Embers. EMBERS. What the–that’s like the name you live with because your two-year-old sister can’t pronounce your real one, and the wrong name is too adorable for anyone to ever let it go (like my old boss Wah Wah). And the prince’s name is Richard, of all boring things with potentially terrible (and accurate) nicknames.
I… You guys, I really did not enjoy this book (I also really, really, really hope the author does not Google herself today. I’d originally written much more, but I deleted a lot of it because, honestly, why beat a dead horse). There is just absolutely no excuse for this level of sexism in a book for young readers. None. And if you’re going to be sexist, or racist (there is no diversity here), or whatever, then at least don’t be boring and over-long. Sigh.
You can read Wendy’s more moderate and well-reasoned (though still negative) opinion here.