Book Review: Stray – Elissa Sussman

Title: Stray (Four Sisters #1)
Author: Elissa Sussman

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

I am grateful for my father, who keeps me good and sweet. I am grateful for my mother, who keeps her own heart guarded and safe. I am grateful for my adviser, who keeps me protected. I am grateful for the Path, which keeps me pure. Ever after.

Princess Aislynn has long dreamed about attending her Introduction Ball, about dancing with the handsome suitors her adviser has chosen for her, about meeting her true love and starting her happily ever after.

When the night of the ball finally arrives and Nerine Academy is awash with roses and royalty, Aislynn wants nothing more than to dance the night away, dutifully following the Path that has been laid out for her. She does not intend to stray.

But try as she might, Aislynn has never quite managed to control the magic that burns within her-magic brought on by wicked, terrible desires that threaten the Path she has vowed to take.

After all, it is wrong to want what you do not need. Isn’t it?

My Review:
I’m about to be very honest. I did not care for Stray, and that is very surprising to me since this book falls into my fairy-tale preferences very nicely. I listened to this as an audio book, and I want to say that this might be part of my problem, but I really don’t think it was. But that doesn’t mean that the book was all bad, and judging from other reviews, most people actually do like the book.

I do want to point out now that I am going to avoid using character names as much as I can, because they were all unusual and I’m afraid to botch up spellings, etc. Bare with me!

What I Loved: So I loved the premise of this book; a book about suppressing magic and learning to not let it control you. About an evil that lurks in the corners waiting to catch hold of you. The setting of the book was near perfect as well. It really had all the elements of a good book. I loved how the author coined her own tongue and cheek sayings using fairy tale stereotypes. I really wish I could remember one, and unfortunately I cannot just open the book and find an example, however they made for a cute, clever addition to the book.

Not So Much: I really felt like this book dragged on in Aislynn’s day-to-day activities, while the real drama was more on the outskirts of the book. We learned a lot about Aislynn and her difficulties and insecurities (brought on by her authorities). She grew up being expected to suppress magic, and then thrown into a situation where she was expected to use it – and she struggles with trying to use magic daily…then at some point BAM – it’s like it was easy.

I really only liked a few characters in this book, and it’s clear that the evil is in more than just the evil queen discussed throughout the story. It wasn’t until the end that “stuff” really started being revealed, and it all seemed anti-climatic. Like I’d been waiting for it so long that I just sort of gave up on it ever coming.

More than once things happened in Stray where there was no explanation offered as to why, a good example is when Aislynn was given a complete 2nd chance at something – but it seemed to come out of nowhere with no reason as to why it happened. She also had a portion of her {lets say it was a characteristic/personality shaping thing} taken from her as part of her punishment (so to speak), which mysteriously seemed to come back in part, but why? Is Aislynn suppose to be especially powerful? I don’t know. It just seemed strange that it was there, except to enhance the there but barely there romantic element to this book.

The Verdict: 
This book just wasn’t for me. I wanted to enjoy it, but it fell short of my expectations. It is a very young adult appropriate (even for younger teens in the 13ish age range), a very clean book.


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