Ratty (blinger) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 14 and 15 - 2010

Book 14: Elphame’s Choice by P.C. Cast – 426 pages

Description from Amazon:
I was marked from birth as belonging to the Goddess Epona--but that didn't make my life easy. Because of my "blessings," I was set apart, worshipped, unable to make real connections with others. Then came the Feeling, and with it a glimpse of my destiny. It led me to the MacCallen castle of legend, deserted since the terrible Fomorian war.
I followed the wordless call to breathe new life into a place long dead, but I didn't realize there were dark remnants of the war lingering in the nearby forest--victims and survivors who remained hidden. Others marked as different, powerful. Feared.
My choice was now twofold. I could keep to the happiness and safety of my newfound home, or I could choose a path that led to something more terrible, more dangerous, more thrilling than anything I'd ever expected.
And in that future I might never be alone again. . .

Book 15: Brighid’s Quest by P.C. Cast – 507 pages

Description from Amazon:
"I will go."
Rather than follow her family's restrictive rules, centaur Brighid chose to set out on her own to make friends and form relationships with humans as well as centaurs.
Now she's facing her toughest challenge yet. While helping guide home a grieving human—Cuchulainn, her friend Elphame's brother—Brighid finds herself beginning to care for him. An emotion forbidden by her clan.
To add to her troubles, the Great Goddess has awoken the power of the Shaman within Brighid—the first centaur so blessed in ages. And just as she's torn between taking up a power she never expected and a love she's afraid to admit to, Brighid receives a vision of a tragedy that might destroy everyone she's ever cared about…

Non spoiler thoughts:
These two books are a duet of sorts, starring the same characters and set over the space of about a year in the same period of time, approximately 125 years after the first of P.C. Cast’s Divine series (Divine by Mistake, Divine by Choice, Divine By Blood). Having said that, and given that I read them in quick succession, I am going to review them together and firstly, with no spoilers and then with spoilers, simply because I loved them so, so much and I have so much to say about them, which will ultimately end up being spoiler-filled. So if you don’t want the spoilers, do not click on the cut below, just keep reading here.
So firstly, I want to say, if you like books about hybrids (which I do – centaurs, mermaids, half-aliens (which is what my own book is based around) etc) then these books are for you. They feature multiple hybrids, both centaurs and others. If this is your thing, you’ll know who you are. Secondly, these books are best read if you’ve already read the Divine series, because they use the same mythology – it just helps with understanding the role of the Goddess and her Chosen etc.
Okay, so the actual books – oh my God! I loved them so much! Unfortunately I was studying for an exam while I was reading Elphame’s Choice which meant I couldn’t focus as much of my attention on them as wanted, but nonetheless it drew me in. In a funny way, as much as I loved the main character of Elphame, it was her brother Cuchulainn that really got to me. I fell head over heels in love with that boy. He was a compelling mixture of my two brothers (making it rather odd that I liked him so much – haha!) and events near the end of the first book made me ache for him. He takes on an even more staring role in Brighid’s Quest and though when I first learned of it, I was put off, it came to make such perfect sense that I feel in love with him all over again. Elphame’s story, on the other hand, whilst the point of the story, is generally very ‘typical’ of a fantasy novel and though I enjoyed it, it was almost overshadowed by Cuchulainn’s. Brighid appears as a supporting character in Elphame’s Choice but takes over the lead in the second book. I didn’t warm to her particularly in the first one, but a hundred pages into the second one, and partly as a result of events in the previous book, and I adored her. She is the kind of woman I can relate to and I appreciated her honesty, strength, and highly amusing sarcastic tongue!
Ultimately, these stories are very character driven, and whilst I’ve heard some say that they are on the dull side, I think if you can relate to the characters (despite their hybridity) you can really get into them. I tend to have a bit of a love-hate relationship with P.C. Cast – I adored Divine by Mistake, and then found myself hating Divine by Choice and Divine by Blood – but I think, in this case, she won this round. Now if only she’d continue with this series and get over the whole vampire thing!

Spoiler thoughts:
Okay, so no one here that cares about spoilers? Nope – good! OMG, OMG, I cannot get over these books! They were so awesome. I totally fell in love with the relationship between Cuchulainn and Breanna and I was devastated when she was murdered! It was horrible! Unfortunately I read ahead and knew it was coming and it was terrible – I was inching my way through, dreading what was to come. Breanna was such a sweet, sweet girl and the love Cuchulainn felt for her was just beautiful, especially given how tragic her life had been and how he had the choice of so many beautiful women but defied the whole ‘appearance’ convention falling for Breanna despite all her scars. When she was first killed off, I was so mad, and when I found out what happened between Cuchulainn and Brighid – who didn’t even get on in Elphame’s Choice – in Brighid’s Quest, I felt so ripped off that Breanna had to die just for that, not to mention the fact that Cuchulainn’s love for Breanna had seemed so all-consuming that the idea of him moving on that quickly seemed cruel. But Cast got around it very nicely and in the end, I grew to greatly respect Brighid and her relationship with Cuchulainn. Really, that part of the story totally overshadowed Elphame’s relationship with the hybrid Lochlan for me, though I did enjoy that too. I loved that Elphame wasn’t quite a centaur but not quite a human and also that Cast implied that they could have children together despite being hybrids. I also fell totally in love with the hybrid children in Brighid’s Quest – they were so cute!! All in all, I loved, loved, loved it!

15 / 50 books. 30% done!

4923 / 15000 pages. 33% done!

I literally have like 5 book reviews to catch up on, but as I think a post that big would crash livejournal, I'll post them in dribs and drabs. So bare in mind that the currently reading as below is current as of today but that there's books I've read in between the reviews above and the books below.

Currently reading:
- The Constant Princess
by Philippa Gregory – 486 pages
- Kindred
by Octavia E. Butler – 287 pages
- Your Planet or Mine?
by Susan Grant – 379 pages

And coming up:
- Angels and Demons
by Dan Brown – 620 pages
- The Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls – 341 pages
- She’s Such a Geek: Women write about Science, Technology & other nerdy stuff
edited by Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders
Tags: fantasy

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