by Maggie L Wood
Lobster Press, May 2011
young adult fantasy
ARC received from publisher (thank you!)
Willow's always lived with her gradnmother, so when Nana starts becoming more and more delusional -- ranting about castles, royalty and faeries -- Willow fears that sh'lle have to put her grandma into a retirement facility. But then she's transported to the very land Nana spoke of, where two kingdoms battle in a war dictated by a chess game and its players. Turns out Willow, the princess, is a White pawn on the chessboard. She has the power to become a queen and potentiall win the game for White, as long as she can cross over to Black's side without being turned into a literal chess piece.The cover:
It's got potential to be pretty, especially with the contrasting red, black and white. But the Photoshop effect is all too clear around the girl; just from the lighting, you can tell that she wasn't originally from this checkered hall. And somehow the whole shebang looks eerily Breaking Dawn-esque.
The chess game premise was interesting, but on the whole the writing in this book fails to deliver. The world-building is run-of-the-mill, complete with uselessly exotic names, enough family history to brainwash you and a Medieval-age lack of technology. (Why is it that magic cancels out all forms of modernism?)
Out of all the stock characters, Willow’s love interest Brand is perhaps the most unique, possibly only because he is her love interest —and because he gets turned into a chess piece. However, that removes him from the action halfway through the book, and afterward our interest wanes, even when the antagonist (who is, unrealistically, thoroughly evil) makes his appearance.
The plot movement is very straight-forward and fantasy readers looking for momentary satisfaction won’t be disappointed. There’s nothing wrong with this novel per se; it just could’ve been improved by a large, large margin.
Rating: 2 out of 5