*Thank you to the publisher, the author, and NetGalley for providing me with an e-arc of the book. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*
A cosmic adventure about the boundless power of a young woman’s potential.
When Madarena first meets the old rogue Apophax, she assumes she’s dreaming. After all, he wears a coat made of hedgehog quills, changes size at will, and treats the laws of physics as merely suggested guidelines. Very quickly, she learns she’s stepped into a world where dreams and reality intersect. Dangerously.
Now, she’s an accomplice in the wily thief’s master plan to rescue a Muse from one of the most powerful beings in existence. The unlikely duo schemes their way from a town made of moonbeams to the fog-shrouded land of the dead. They fence with nightmares and bargain with witches amid the asteroid remains of a shattered planet. Along the way, Madarena learns that potential is more than a word. Rescuing the Muse—and Madarena’s own survival—depend on harnessing all the women she can be.
This is one of those rare books that capture your mind, attention, thoughts, and heart right from the very first chapter.
We follow Maderena Rua, a young girl who wears a cloak of potential and carries a trunk of words in her mind. This book gives off a lot of “Alice in Wonderland” vibes in the sense that the world that Jake Burnett has created is absolutely bizarre, and it renders a really magical ✨ feel to it, but that is where all the similarities end.
What really stood out for me was the characters. Usually in books that toe the line between middle grade and YA, the protagonist and some selected side characters are the only ones worth remembering, but in this book, I must say that each and every character, whether their role ended only after a single dialogue or just a run-into in a random scene, each and every character was so well fleshed out and thoughtfully created, that you can’t help but remember them all. Starting from zombie kids, to lip-sewing dragonflies, to talking chalks, metallic whirring characters with lots of springs – everyone had a role in the story. There was not a single moment that felt unnecessary or irrelevant. Every scene furthered the plot and had a purpose.
“Remember this: Discomfort is inevitable if things are interesting. There is nothing wrong with wanting things to be interesting.”
Maderena was a curiously unusual character, whose favorite pasttime was going through new words in the dictionary. She has a penchant for adventure and a phobia of boredom. Clever, smart, and witty, I promise she will not bore you at all, and might even make you laugh out loud. However, there is one thing that immediately brought down the rating for me by one star, and that is when I read Maderena is “not like other people.” (This is one of the most frustrating tropes in YA books – “not like other girls,” and I think authors need to stop using this.)
“I’m a woman with a bad attitude and disreputable hoodie, who reads the dictionary for fun and has a deep fear of ennui. Take it or leave it.”
I loved the constant bickering between Maderena and her mentor/accomplice/not-really-a-friend – Apophax, who is an old Dream burdened with sorrow, in search of his Muse, who was stolen from him in a treacherous moment of misplaced faith.
The ending got me chewing on my nails, but I really wished this was a series and not a stand-alone because the world that Burnett has created has so much potential. The pacing of the story was medium to fast, but it definitely doesn’t bore you. The vivid descriptions make you feel like you are right by Maderena, discovering the world through her eyes.
“I’m an old dream with a delightful demeanor and fancy coat, who built a fool-proof Plan and eschews all ennui. Take it or leave it.”
This brings me to one of the most interesting and bold aspects of the book and that is the language. Honestly, the story could easily fit into the middle-grade category, if not for the language. The writing style is not hard to follow, but it isn’t easy either. It took me a while to get used to the way that it’s written, and it kind of reminded me of children’s classics (yes, Alice in Wonderland to be specific). And the author uses really difficult, uncommon, and new words which made it really hard for me to keep up. And that probably says a lot about my vocabulary than the writing style, but I am pretty sure those are not words that people usually know. Thankfully, I was reading it on my kindle, so it was more than easy to just look up the meanings.
Overall, the book was a magical bundle of words, characters, and an amazing whimsical world. I would definitely love to read more from this author in the future!
Hello! It’s been a while since I posted a review hehe. 🤫 It’s because I was working on these new graphics and formatting. So, what do you think? Do you like it? Do you like the idea of “to sum it up”? I figured that it’s way more interesting and fun than just listing down stuff, you know? And since, my blog is called “The Fictional Journal”, I tried to make it look like a page out of a journal. 😇
And guys, I am so sorry for not being very active here. I still haven’t gotten around to responding all the comments in my previous post, and I am so so sorry. This whole week has been really hectic and I am really glad that this post was already drafted, because I don’t think there would be any content from me otherwise. So much online classes and school and ughh. This week is going really bad for my eyes and headaches. I apologize once more for being MIA. Please don’t hesitate to comment and interact with my posts, I will respond as soon as possible. I love you guys! And just thank you for everything<3