Sunday, March 31, 2013

Review: The Silver Rose by Susan Carroll

Title: The Silver Rose
Author: Susan Carroll
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Ballantine
Published: 2006
Pages: 515

Rating: 2 out of 10

The Silver Rose opens with Miri Cheney, the youngest of her sisters, just having arrived back at Faire Isle, her beloved home. However, trouble arises almost immediately after her arrival when Simon Aristide, a man she once loved before he betrayed her, shows up unexpectedly. He tells her about a new evil force of witches that are rising, led by a mysterious unknown woman called the Silver Rose. Despite misgivings about how much she can trust Simon, Miri follows him on his quest, and finds herself falling in love with him again.

I got this book at Goodwill, and found that it was the third in a series. However, I don't think that these books have to be read in chronological order, because relevant events from the other two books were explained satisfactorily.

That being said, I certainly won't be reading the other books in this series. The Silver Rose was simply pathetic. There were so many things wrong with it, I began taking notes on a note card that was serving as my bookmark. By the time I was only a few chapters in, the card was full.

Overall, this book was cheaply written, void of any depth, power or skill. If I had to guess, I would say that the writer's influences came from Harlequin romances. I felt painfully surrounded by corniness, awful writing, and predictable romance plot-lines constantly.

The characters were dreadful, one sided, lifeless sketches. The main character, Miri, annoyed me to no end. She is supposedly twenty-six or around there (I forget the exact number), and yet she acts more like a sixteen year old, which I how I pictured her. She was cast with the unfortunate cliche of the typical "girls-don't-need-boys!" attitude, and I can assure you that it was far from well done. I kept asking myself how Miri could possibly be so naive and stupid (though the book describes her as wise; her only flaw being a bit too trusting). It did not take me long to figure out that it wasn't Miri, it was the author.
Simon Aristide, the supporting character with the second biggest role in the story, was also the exact same man that can be found in thousands of other stories. He was cast as the equally cliche ruggedly handsome tough-guy with a dark side, but actually turns out to be a very caring, sensitive man underneath. I wasn't impressed.
I won't go on, but suffice it to say that all of the characters made for quite uninteresting reading.

And right from the very beginning, there are problems with the plot.
Here are some of them...

- Miri thinks about Simon (and is discussing him with a friend) randomly after ten years of hearing nothing from him, and then, lo and behold, he shows up that very day!
- Miri's cat warns her to hide because Simon can't track her, but Simon does track her, and then once he is close the cat leads him right in front of Miri's cabin to "trap him," which he escapes from minutes later.
- The book tells us that the reason Simon found Miri was because she didn't follow her sister's advice about not attracting attention on Faire Isle (meaning, by standing up for a young girl), but how could Simon hear about that within a few hours, and why would anyone care all that much?
- A woman is weeping and wanting to die because she hears that Miri may have been killed. Why doesn't she just walk over to her cottage and see?
- Miri adamantly refuses to believe Simon's story about the Silver Rose, but suddenly does a few minutes later after he shows her a weapon one of their witches carried. It could have been anyone's. An exceptional weapon doesn't mean that his story is true. Why is she so stupid not to think of this?
- In the middle of the night, Simon is forced to journey to Catherine's castle to receive orders, which are all very badly thought through on the author's part, and then returns to the inn he was staying at in time for Miri to never even know he was gone. This just seemed pretty suspicious to me.
- Simon and Miri kiss three times and the author is still telling us that nothing is going on between them and trying to surprise us by having them kiss again... oh, how unexpected.
- Miri is supposedly some sort of strong warrior sorceress (which we, by the way, never see any evidence of in the story), but when Martin and Simon are about to fight, all she can do is stand there and whine "Oh, stop. Oh, please don't. Please don't do it."

There are more, but I don't want to give away spoilers in case anyone is still determined to actually read it.

And there's more! (I could go on and on). Just things that annoyed me, or that I didn't like...

- Constant stammering! Constant! It was so aggravating I wanted to scribble out all of those extra letters. I couldn't possibly read another book by this author, at risk of hearing another "T-the" or "c-can't."
- Disturbing analogies and word usage in the romance scenes. Maybe the author was trying to make it seem rougher, or sexier... I don't know. Whatever she was attempting, all she did was make me grimace at her choice of words. Things are always described as "assaulted her skin with his hands..." or, the worst, "plundered her mouth..." Plundered? That must be the absolute worst description of kissing I've ever heard of. Also, Martin frequently called himself Miri's "slave." Too many times. Is that supposed to be romantic?
- The back cover of this book led me to believe that this was historical fiction with a touch of fantasy. Please do not be fooled. This book is all fantasy. The only thing historical about it is throwing in a random year and some names of people in history.
- The character of Carole was all over the place. She simply did whatever was most convenient for the plot, and pretty much nothing that she did made any sense.
- Faire Isle is an island made up of women. Women make the rules and the decisions, and have more rights there. There are only a few men. First of all, this seemed very cliche to me. Also, every woman on the island apparently has a family. Don't they need men for that...?
- Miri's first crush was Simon, ten years ago. He betrayed her, and she supposedly moved on. And all that time, she has had no other crushes, no other lovers, and is still a virgin when she and Simon later make love? Hmm...
- Just one more. The author tries to throw a curve ball by introducing the character of Martin into the story. I predicted she would do just that as soon as I read that Miri's sisters suggested she settle down and marry a certain boy who was head over heels for her. So just as Miri and Simon are falling in love (toward the end of the book), Martin appears at the perfect timing. Does the writer honestly think that she is fooling us into believing that there is a love triangle emerging?
And Martin goes on to be a major part of the climax and ending of the story, after only appearing so late... shouldn't he have been built up a bit more if he was so important?

Overall, I would advise you not to waste your time on this awfully written book.