Every now and again I post Book Rants, where people email me for many, many kilobytes about a book that set their pants on fire in a bad way. Today I have a guest review that is mostly in the form of a Book Squee, lest you think we don’t squee enough around these here parts. Tina C. would probably flail her arms and jump up and down if forced to give this review out loud.
Tina wrote, I just finished a book, Warped, by Maurissa Guibord, that I downloaded from our local library. It is a YA, which I don’t usually read, but I’m so glad I picked this up! It’s one of the best books that I’ve read in a really long time. I loved the hero and the heroine and I thought the plot was engrossing and original. The summary on the Amazon page doesn’t do it justice.
To which I said, “TELL ME MORE.” This was Tina’s response:
Well, I just tried to describe the story to my husband—complete with, “No, it’s really good!” interjections—and realized that it’s difficult to describe without it sounding a lot more cheesy and implausible than it actually reads.
1511—William de Chauncy is the 2nd son of the Earl of Umbric. While out riding on his father’s lands, just outside of Hartescross Village, in Cambridge, England, he sees the village girl who has definitely caught his eye (though he pretends to never see her—same as she does to him), running into the forest. He follows her to find out what she’s doing and to keep her safe because she could be accused of poaching and severely punished, if not outright killed, if she gets caught by one of his father’s men. Unfortunately, instead of finding the girl, he finds an old woman.
The old woman is, of course, a witch and before he can do anything about it, she unravels him, literally, turning him into thread that she weaves into a unicorn. (Yes, a unicorn.) Because this old woman has a plan and it’s more than the usual “oooo, I just love unicorns! And glitter!” sort of thing. Unicorns represent immortality. Unicorns woven into a tapestry with magic, using thread made of an actual person, represents a witch who is now young and beautiful forever and always—as long as the unicorn stays in that tapestry where he belongs. And that’s exactly where he stays for about 500 years, until a mix up at an estate sale sends the box with the tapestry to auction.
Now—Tessa is 17 and her father owns a bookstore that has a large selection of old and rare books (as well as the usual bookstore items). Her mother was killed in a car accident about 4 years ago and he has started dating someone else, which doesn’t thrill Tessa though she’s not particularly bratty about it (she mostly just avoids both the new gf and the whole thought of them together). The story opens at an auction and several boxes of old books from an estate sale—and an additional wooden chest that contains an old tapestry of a unicorn in a forest glade and an old, handwritten book in Latin. Tessa is drawn to the tapestry and the unicorn, which seems almost life-like. Unfortunately, even before she hangs it on her wall, she begins to wonder if she’s losing her mind because she’s having waking-dreams about a girl in the Middle Ages who looks very much like her and a boy who she’s drawn to, despite herself.
A short time later, she notices a silver thread hanging from the bottom of the tapestry and when she pulls on it, out comes Will who is a bit bewildered and angry to find himself in 21-century Portland, Maine, with a girl who looks exactly like the village girl from his time—a girl, who for reasons explained in the story, he blames for trapping him. Then, of course, there is the witch, who is more than a little upset that her tapestry and spell book went astray (it’s so hard to find good minions!) and who is even more upset when she suddenly becomes an old woman again because “her” unicorn has escaped. She’ll stop at nothing to get her youth and beauty and household items back. Additionally, there are the literal hands of Fate, the Wyrd Sisters, who don’t care if Tessa is the one who stole the threads (there are other people who were changed into other beings and woven into the tapestry) or not—they want Tessa to return the stolen threads or else they will destroy her.
I know, it’s complicated and I don’t think I’m describing it well, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book!
I loved Tessa, who is handling some difficult things even before she gets caught up in magic and gorgeous, autocratic boys from another time. She has a desire to fix things and help other people and she’s brave. She’s smart and resourceful and sometimes impetuous, but she definitely has a good heart. I loved Will—and I LOVE the way he’s written. Yes, by our standards, he’s still a boy (I think he’s 18 or 19) but by medieval standards, he was a full-grown man. He’s written in a way that shows that he considers himself a man and Tessa a woman (though it’s very PG, being a YA book, of course). I love that he’s autocratic, because he was an aristocrat, after all, and overly-bossy (not that Tessa lets him get away with it), but he’s a good person. When Tessa says that they should burn the tapestry so that he can’t ever be trapped there again, he won’t do it because he knows there are other people trapped in it the way he was and he doesn’t want to kill them just to save himself. I love that he is so very drawn to her and more than a little in love with her, even when he thinks that he can’t trust her because he’s sure that she and the girl from the village are one and the same. And I love that it’s written so well that that particular obstacle seems genuine and not just a way to keep them from going too far (since it’s YA and all) when they kiss. I love that they rescue each other. Finally, I love that, despite their ages, I really believed the HEA at the end.
The best friend felt a little extraneous; the father was mostly a non-entity (and then a plot device); and there was one particular continuity error that caught my attention. But all of that was minor, over all, and those were the only problems I saw. All in all, I give it a solid A, leaning towards an A+.
Seriously, read this book.