Title: Owl Eyes
Author: Molly Lazer
Genre: Young adult fantasy
Published: By Fire and Ice YA on March 20th, 2018
Note: I received a free e-copy of the book via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review
Nora knows three things: she is a servant, her parents are dead, and she lives in the kitchen house with her adoptive family. But her world is torn apart when she discovers that her birth father has always been right there, living in the house she serves. This discovery leads Nora to more questions. Why was she thrown in an ash-covered room for asking about her father? Why is a silver-bladed knife the only inheritance from her birth mother? Why is magic forbidden in her household—and throughout the province of the Runes? The answers may not be the ones Nora hoped for, as they threaten a possible romance and her relationship with the adoptive family she loves. With the announcement of a royal ball, Nora must decide what she is willing to give up in order to claim her stolen birthright, and whether this new life is worth losing her family — and herself.
I go into anything I get approved for on NetGalley with caution and rightly so, because I have been disappointed before. I requested this out of curiosity as it was a Cinderella retelling and the cover was appealing. I didn’t expect to get approved, but even after I did, I wasn’t too excited to dive in. Since the release date was so close, I made it my priority to read it. Since I’d enjoyed another Cinderella retelling (Geekerella by Ashley Poston) around the same time last year, I hoped I’d enjoy this one as well.
Once I started, it was a struggle to put it down, but I had to because of my hectic schedule. The voice of the protagonist and the wonderfully described setting swept me away since page one. Nora, our Cinderella, was much more realistic and flawed than the Disney version of Cinderella (which is the only version I’m familiar with and don’t like all that much). The constant mention of food made my mouth water as I absorbed the story. It started off slowly but by the end I was a huge fan of the plot. Although predictable, it ended the way I had hoped it to and that really warmed my heart. All of the characters were superbly developed. I really enjoyed the fact that it deviated from the original a bit in the characterization of some of them. The motivations of the villains as well were portrayed really well even though it had first person narration, which is a feat that needs to be lauded. The setting was wonderfully detailed and revealed to the reader in bite-sized chunks, which made it come to life. There was also a healthy dose of political intrigue. I also loved the magic system and wish it made more of an impact on the plot just so it would be explored more. I also wish the ending was less abrupt because I really wanted more from the characters.
If you’re a fan of retellings, this one should definitely be on your radar. It is a far cry from the fluffy Disney version, but that’s what made it a unique and satisfying read for me. It is also great for someone looking to move up from middle grade to young adult fantasy. I really wish there was more hype around this book because it is one of the best debut novels I’ve ever had an opportunity to review. Let me add a fan fact that might sway you: Molly Lazer is a former associate editor at Marvel Comics! The soundtrack of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland would fit the tone of the book perfectly, in my opinion. Gather all the food you can possibly eat as you read this book because it is sure to make your stomach rumble!
Do fairy tale retellings interest you? What’s the best retelling you’ve ever read? Let me know in the comments section below.