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Afton of Margate Castle (The Knights' Chronicles Book 1) Kindle Edition
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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Very slow moving and somewhat disturbing is the way of Margate Castle. The plot is all over the place and you're never really sure what story you are following. Most of the characters are underdeveloped as is the overall story. You do get a good feel for the depraved minds of two characters and some insight to the others. So many holes are left that the anticlimactic ending leaves you longing for the last page.
As the book begins, Afton is the beautiful and carefree young daughter of an English villein. When her innocent mistake kills the family ewe, they are unable to pay their rent and Afton is given to the lord and lady to raise as a lark (Lady Endeline, a ridiculously over-the-top villainess, craves beautiful peasant children to raise as her own). Although she has moments of happiness, Hunt basically spends the next few hundred pages making Afton endure every type of awfulness. The sheer misery of the book isn't the real problem (although I can see how some readers may be put off by it). What got me was how constructed and anachronistic everything felt. The thoughts and words of these people just aren't in keeping with their times (like when Afton's father muses to Afton's mother -- when they face giving up their child -- that although they have been poor all their lives, this is the first time that he actually *feels* poor). Nothing seems truly alive because the characters didn't seem authentic.
I loved the medieval settings; this is my favorite time period. The author clearly did her research on the people, places, customs, and societal classes of the time period, and every time I was lucky enough to sit down and read for a spell, I was quickly and completely transported to this time and place, which was a wonderful escape (my favorite thing about reading!). The romance was squeaky clean, if you like to steer clear of trashy romance.
I didn't give 5 stars because there were some flaws that kept me from absolutely loving the book. I read the Kindle edition (it was a freebie), and the errors were plentiful and annoying. Not just spelling/grammatical errors, but glaring errors like missing words, and even sometimes entire phrases were missing. These were not few and far between, but common occurrences that had to be dealt with every few pages, it seemed.
As for the writing, I was frustrated by the lack of character development, especially in the main characters. Afton, especially, was hard to really "feel" and understand. I often had no idea why she did (or thought) some of the things she did. I still pulled for her and wanted desperately for her to have happiness instead of the almost constant heartbreak she had to bear, but on the other hand, some of her heartbreak was her own doing, and I still can't figure out what her reasons were for her foolish actions and decisions at those times. Foolish pride was the supposed answer, but she made the same bitter mistakes over and over again, to the point I wondered why I was even pulling for her. The same goes for the other main character, Calhoun. Although I felt his character was a bit more understandable than Afton, he, also, was a victim of his own overblown pride time and again, and never seemed to learn from these foolish mistakes.
Otherwise, there was something about the "voice" of the novel that seemed a bit amateur, especially at the beginning. Upon reading about the author, I saw this was her first novel (20 yrs ago), and she's written many since then, so I assume it is a bit amateur. But it certainly didn't cause me to want to stop reading, and this seemed to improve quite a bit as the novel progressed (or maybe I just got used to it, or wrapped up in the story, or both).
But overall, the story was quite interesting and enjoyable to read. While it was a bit slow to start (I found the first 20% of the book to be a bit slow--though not boring), once it got going, I found it hard to put down, and it kept me up late into the night several times. There were many twists and turns, and I found myself on the edge of my seat on more than a few occasions. 4 solid stars.
I skimmed a lot lot lot of pages. Left me wondering why in the world I wasted my time on it to see what the end was. finally I did go to the end and find out.