Friday, October 24, 2014

Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff

Title: Fiendish
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: August 14, 2014
Rating: 3.5 stars
Clementine DeVore spent ten years trapped in a cellar, pinned down by willow roots, silenced and forgotten.

Now she’s out and determined to uncover who put her in that cellar and why.

When Clementine was a child, dangerous and inexplicable things started happening in New South Bend. The townsfolk blamed the fiendish people out in the Willows and burned their homes to the ground. But magic kept Clementine alive, walled up in the cellar for ten years, until a boy named Fisher sets her free. Back in the world, Clementine sets out to discover what happened all those years ago. But the truth gets muddled in her dangerous attraction to Fisher, the politics of New South Bend, and the Hollow, a fickle and terrifying place that seems increasingly temperamental ever since Clementine reemerged. -Summary from Goodreads

            Fiendish is set in a small town in the Midwest where normal and “crooked” (people who have fiends in their family tree) live side by side. Naturally a lot of tension builds up between these two groups. Prejudice and dislike abound, but, for the most part, besides the Reckoning, people keep their pitchforks in their closets. The town itself is like an important side character. It has its own culture and personality, and its journey is vital to the story. The natural world is infused with magic creating an awesome setting. The magic itself isn’t explained, it just is, which makes it seem wild and natural. You get the sense that although people sometimes use it, there’s really no way to control it. It is its own being.

            I loved the beginning of the book, it is so creepy and beautiful at the same time (the beauty comes from Yovanoff's writing). Clementine has been stuck in the cellar of her house for 10 years when Fisher finds her and gets her out. One issue I have with the book is that even though she has been under a spell for all that time, it doesn’t seem like her mind is affected. It said that she was aware of the world during that time and she watched it somehow, but it is very vague. I thought she adjusted to the world a little too easily. The only thing that seemed to throw her off was the change in her cousin and aunt, other than that she seemed very self-assured for someone who has been out of the world for a decade. Overall, her character just felt underdeveloped.

            I thought that the romance was also kind of flat. There’s nothing I hated about it, but there wasn’t anything I liked about it either. I guess I just couldn’t understand what Clementine and Fisher saw in each other besides the fact that they’re both strange. 

            The best thing about this book is the beautiful writing style and the amazing setting. Yovanoff brings this world to life through her words, and the terrifying and ugly within it are also at the same time intriguing and beautiful. Even the normal things she describes seem magical. If you’re looking for a good stand-alone book for Halloween, Fiendish may be for you.


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