Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Valiant - Sarah McGuire

Publisher:        Egmont USA

Market:            General

Genre:             Juvenile; Fantasy

Length:            384 pages

Pub. Date:       April 28, 2015


Description (from Amazon):

Saville despises the bolts of velvet and silk that her father loves- he's always prized them more than he's ever loved her. Yet when he's struck ill, she'll do anything to survive, even donning boys' clothes and begging a commission to sew for the king.

Piecing together a fine coat is far simpler than unknotting court gossip about an army of giants led by a man who cannot be defeated. And they're marching toward Reggen to seize the throne. But Saville knows giants are just stories, and no man is immortal.

Then she meets them, two scouts as tall as trees. She tricks them into leaving, but tales of the daring tailor's triumph quickly spin into impossible feats of giant-slaying. And mere stories won't deter the Duke and his larger-than-life army.

Now only a courageous and clever tailor girl can see beyond the rumors to save the kingdom again.

My Review:

This book was provided to me free of charge by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Apparently this book is a modern retelling of The Valiant Tailor by the Grimm Brothers.  I had no idea about that until I looked at Goodreads after reading.  And I’ve never read the original story.  So I will be making no comparisons between the two. 

I requested the book based solely on the cover and a recommendation from NetGalley (since I had just joined).  So I really had no expectations going into it other than it was a fantasy story aimed at young adult readers.

The book got off to a slow start for me.  I was not very interested for at least the first quarter of the book, but it picked up some from there.  So I was glad to have stuck with it.  I really enjoyed the last quarter plus of the book when the action started moving along.
Saville is a girl wise beyond her years.  Her mother has passed away, and she is being “raised” by her father, the Tailor.  The Tailor receives no sympathy from me because as clearly stated numerous times, he loves his fabric far more than his daughter.  Yet she is still faithful and true to him.

When push comes to shove and things both at home and for the city of Regen get dicey, Saville shines.  She has both wit and wisdom.  She had compassion and is able to connect with those around her.  And she had no problem putting the pieces together to figure out what is really going on.  Kudos to her as there were things that I didn’t see or put together until they were revealed in the text. 

Even the supporting characters – while initially seeming more caricatures – are fleshed out by the end of the story.  They all develop and change throughout the telling. 

This is clearly a fantasy story complete with evil duke and human eating giants.  There is even a love story that slowly unfolds.  It stays chaste with just a few embraces and kisses. 

The few supernatural or spiritual elements present in the story are really more make believe than realistic.  Which I think is perfectly understandable for this genre.  They are also very secondary to the rest of the story.

As far as questionable content goes, well, the giants eat humans and wreak havoc.  While unappealing it is to be expected of giants and the eating is not ever described in detail, just mentioned as fact.  There is also legend of a man who cannot be killed.  The super conservative reader might take issues with these items, but they are all far tamer than anything Disney offers (and I’m sure more so than the Grimm’s original).

I would put the target audience for this novel at upper elementary/young middle school readers.  My 6th grader would like this story about a girl who has adventures.  It would mainly appeal to tweens more than older teens who have cut their teeth on the edgier Hunger Games and similar fare.  While the main character is an older teen, the story itself is appropriate for younger kids, and there is nothing objectionable to label it otherwise.

At its heart, it is a simple story of a girl with great courage, wit, and wisdom.

Pros:  inspiring young female character; character growth all around

Cons:  story drags at the start

My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 (good)

***This review will also post on The Christian Manifesto

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