Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Book Review: Torn by Rowenna Miller

Hi All!

Abby here with something a bit different for you today. A few weeks ago we were contacted by a publisher regarding fellow blogger, historic costumer, and reenactor - Rowenna Miller's new book, Torn which is the first in a historical/fantasy series inspired by the events of the French Revolution. As a newly published author, Hoosier, and supporter of Rowenna (and a fan of historical fiction - fantasy or not!) -- I was happy to receive an early copy of the book to read and review for the blog-o-sphere.

Here's the cover of Rowenna's first book - Torn. 

The book focuses on milliner/mantua-maker/seamstress Sophie Balstrade who lives in the capital city of Galitha. She's worked her rump off making a career for herself despite unfavorable odds of being of Pellian descent (a minority group that have immigrated to the country of Galitha and also have their own decently sized immigrant quarter in Galitha City) and her relationship with her brother, a right proper Enjolras from Les Miserable, named Kristos.

While dealing with the constant revolutionary discussions that occur between Sophie's brother and his friends, she's busy trying to grow her business and expand into the much desired nobility customer base. Her reputation gets her an 'in' with the pseudo Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun character (that's how I envisioned her anyways), that is incredibly warm and hospitable to our protagonist in a way that is a bit jarring. From there, Sophie's life just becomes a fabric filled cluster of super highs and super lows, all while trying to navigate what is an incredibly stressful and delicate situation. Where does her loyalty lie? How can she protect her business, her life, and the livelihood of her employees? Why is her brother so damn confusing?

Enjolras/Kristos getting their revolution on....

Obviously, I don't want to give away the plot, but give a review instead. First, I want to say that I am incredibly proud and excited for Rowenna's first publication, not just as a fellow Hoosier, but because she is a blogger and reenactor, too. She's a part of this wonderful community that has developed on line, and Lauren and I strongly believe in supporting our peers in their endeavors.

To get to the point - I am looking forward to reading the second book in the series, but I can't say that this first book was the quickest of reads. It did take a while for me to really grow attached to the characters, and I felt like the book was repetitive and slow moving through a good chunk of the 436 pages. Since we were sent advance copies, I am unsure if there was more editing to be done, or other changes, because there was a note in the book about how some of the material may not appear in the finished book, so my critique could be null and void now with the finished version out. Once we were able to get some good plot & character development going, the last part of the book was really quite enjoyable, suspenseful, and exciting - which is why I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the next book.

The other little issue, that is probably entirely my own since I'm well versed in 18th century history, is that I spent wayyyyy too much time figuring out who Rowenna based her characters off of from historical record. Knowing that book takes some inspiration from the French Revolution, every new character (especially the nobility) that was introduced resulted in me comparing them to their potential historical counterparts - which really affected my ability to enjoy the story for what it is. Again - I think that might be entirely my own issue - but if you're inclined to do this too, I would strongly suggest that you stop yourself. 😂

Self-Portrait with Cerise Ribbons, Elisabeth Vigée  Le Brun, 1782, Kimball Art Museum (Texas) ACK 1949.02
Finally, I just want to reiterate how excited I am for Rowenna for this massive accomplishment - writing a book is extremely hard work, and to get one book published is an incredible accomplishment - let alone an entire series planned out! So, a HUGE HUGE congratulations to Rowenna for the publication of her first novel! It was a fun read & I'm looking forward to the next installment (...and I'm grateful that it wont take as long a certain George R.R. Martin is taking with his next book...ahem ahem ahem...)

If you would like to read Torn by Rowenna Miller - you can get yours on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and probably any local bookstore.

If you want to visit Rowenna's author page click Here and her blog is Hyaline Prosaic.

CONGRATULATIONS ROWENNA!!! 





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3 comments:

  1. oh my, I know its the most shallow thing ever, but I love it when a character has the same name as me haha. ill definitely look into this book!

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    1. HAHAHHA!Love it! (I totally would be/am the same way...)

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  2. I appreciated your frank review! I think I'm going to look this one up. So often I read book reviews written by friends/blogging acquaintances of the author, and they're so full of drippy praise that you can't get any real idea of what the book is like for the average reader. Surely there must be a happy medium between flattery laid on with a trowel and heaps of criticism - and I think you hit that sweet spot here. Sounds like it's a good plot, historically accurate, with possibly some first-novel-rework-needed and in that case, I want to give it a try!

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