Rating: 2.25/5 stars
Pages: 389 pages
Series: The Elfin, Book 1
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Fae, Paranormal
I’ve got to be honest, I had high hopes for this story going into it. Reading Elfin‘s blurb alone was enough to get me pumped to read a good, “old fashioned” elven book. You know the type – human protagonist that gets dragged into a fae war and ends up being the reason the good guys win. This is the kind of story that was popular 5-10 years ago when it seemed like everyone was writing books about the fae. Heck, I was rooting for Cassie and her crew before I even started reading the story.
However, while I greatly enjoyed the premise of the story, I didn’t like the execution of it. It was obvious that this story was written around 2010 (2012 to be exact). For example, in the beginning of the story we’re introduced to Elora, Cassie’s best friend, and she’s the stereotypical early 2000’s goth girl. At least, that’s what she looks like and her dry sense of humor leads me to believe that while she can be badass at times, Elora was mostly there to play the stereotype. Even past the first couple of chapters, there are things that Cassie and Elora say to each other that I can’t picture people – especially not teenagers – saying in the last 5+ years. I mean, “ass squared” when talking about an assassin was a cute joke when said once, but what eighteen year old is going to repeatedly say it?
On top of the characters themselves feeling a bit dated, I couldn’t get into Loftis’ writing style. I really wanted to be pulled into the magical world that she was creating, but something about the writing just didn’t do it for me. So many scenes were super long winded and filled with details that didn’t add to the story at all.
Don’t get me wrong, I love getting to know things about secondary characters because it makes them feel more real. But I don’t really think that being told that Cassie’s dad found time to “do push-ups and sit-ups in his office throughout the day” (Chapter 1). Heck, me saying that didn’t spoil anything from the story, nor did it add to your experience as a reader, but Loftis felt the need to add details like this almost continuously. To me, these nonsensical details detract from the story, pulling me out of the world the author is trying to build and making my eyes glaze over.
If these details alone weren’t enough to pull me out of a story I might have otherwise enjoyed, the grammar and punctuation throughout this story really needs some help. I’m all for the overuse of a good comma, as anyone reading this can probably already tell, but there’s a proper place in a sentence for a comma to go. A comma shouldn’t really be placed, where the person reading isn’t supposed to, take a break. I find that this is a common issue throughout literature, but when paired with other literary faux pas it does a good job of pulling me out of the story.
Loftis also seems to use a lot of fragmented sentences. Instead of adding incomplete thoughts together in order to create a well rounded sentence, a lot of the times a paragraph would be filled with a multitude of short sentences. A sentence might give a thought that can stand on its own. Yet it could be stronger if a common or joining word had been used instead of a period.
Turning away from the grammatical side of things, I want to touch on the fact that Loftis seemed very dismissive of stereotypical “female” roles throughout the story. The most obvious, and least spoiler-y, case of this would be when Cassie is talking about her father’s assistant in Chapter 1 and says “… he asked me to do some of the filing and whatever other meaningless tasks [his assistant] does”. While I could see this being a part of her character if Cassie was dismissive and rude throughout the whole story, the opposite is supposed to be true. I can’t see a person who’s supposed to be pure and good acting so dismissively over someone’s job.
I understand that teenagers can sometimes act immaturely, but this doesn’t seem to be one such case. It read to me as if Loftis just doesn’t see the value of an assistant’s job and that it being a stereotypical “female” job now just makes it seem like she’s looking down on this “female” job. Which is crazy because not only was an assistant historically a male job before World War 2, but I’ve known plenty of badass female assistants in my life whose bosses would be lost without them. I find it a little ridiculous to look down on a whole profession and take digs at it through your writing.
I also don’t think it’s okay to refer to someone as “frumpy” when there are so many other ways to go about describing a person. Loftis might have been using this as a way to tie Martha to her job as an assistant, but if she was using the word “frumpy” in this way it makes me hate this part of the book that much more.
Having harped so much on the book, one might wonder why I didn’t give it a worse rating. Heck, when I wrote my review on Replica, I didn’t pull punches when rating it. You see, I firmly believe that if you don’t have as big of a problem with the flow of the story as I did, you might like this story. The characters themselves had personalities and it was easy to tell which person was talking just by their phrasing. The romance in the story was cliche, but I tend to like those romances. I can see this story being a guilty pleasure for some. So, while this book isn’t for me, it’s a book that I can see being for someone with different tastes.
While my first thought on the long scene of Cassie working in her father’s building was “why are we getting such a detailed scene about something that won’t matter to the plot at all?”, the thing that probably bugged me most about this scene was the fact that Cassie’s father gave her a box of scanning and a box of shredding at the same time. Do you know how easy it would have been to confuse those boxes? Yet this little side detail which was thrown in for a reason I can’t fathom in the first place never got a payoff. Did Cassie scan the proper box? Who knows. It was just another throwaway detail that Loftis added to the story and detracted from the important parts.
I know that this scene was supposed to be impactful because Cassie sees elves’ true forms and meets Trik for the first time, but it was such a long winded scene that it didn’t hold any impact. Oh no, Cassie’s life is in danger! But what about those boxes of papers that Loftis mentioned? Did Cassie actually fulfill her role as a replacement assistant? All I can say is her “working” took up more page time than the elves themselves so it’s not an insane question for me to wonder more about the office work.
Before I start tearing into the story more than I already have, I’d just like to point out something I actually enjoyed about this book. I liked the fact that each chapter started with a “quote” that gave insight into the characters’ emotional states. At the beginning of this story, this “quote” lets the reader know that if a human were to see an elf’s true form then their life is forfeit. Of course, that fact got harped on time and time again in the meat of the story itself, but let’s not get into that. It was a cool way to let the reader know something that Cassie herself hadn’t known.
This same “quote” system was used to show Cassie’s mental state while going through the withdrawals of Rapture. As the reader you know that she’d rather die than go through the pain but Trik doesn’t realize how desperate Cassie is until it’s almost too late. These “quotes” were one of the few things that kept me interested in the plot of the story.
Having barely had any time with Elora, I didn’t find it shocking to find out that her family knew about the elves and just weren’t allowed to say anything. I mean, she was already trying to dress Cassie up for Halloween as a dark fairy. Elora and her mother, Lisa, were just the easiest way to explain the elves to Cassie – and the reader – through characters that Cassie already knew instead of through the elves themselves.
I found it interesting that elves are able to travel through reflections to get wherever they want to go. Obviously normal humans aren’t able to travel this way without elven assistance, yet Cassie is able to do just this when running from Trik during the ball. I have to believe that Cassie is an exception to this rule because she’s the “True Queen” of the elves. Even though she’s human, the Forest Lords have to have given Cassie special powers along with their blessing to be with their King. I mean, do you really think that the most powerful elf of all time would end up with a weak and (basically) useless human? Nah, they’ve got to have given Cassie a fighting chance even if she is human.
What I didn’t find interesting was the fact that, 0 pretense, Trik just travels straight to Cassie’s room to… kidnap her? I’m not sure if that’s what his plan was right at the beginning, but he quickly made it clear that Cassie wouldn’t be safe living in the human world and she’d have to move in with him at some point. Oh, and he doesn’t mince his words when he tells Cassie that she’s his Chosen – before even getting to know anything about her. Or even explaining to her what that could possibly mean for them. Heck, he let her force him away even knowing that it would cause both of them immense pain.
That’s just the first time in this book that Trik is an idiot about things pertaining to Cassie. Not really a good way to deal with someone who didn’t know about elves less than 24 hours before and therefore knows nothing about your people or customs.
Another, yet smaller, thing that I didn’t really enjoy about the story is how frequently the scene went from one character’s perspective to another. I much prefer books that have a flow to character transitions. Give me a double space between paragraphs if you don’t want to put a little symbol to indicate that perspectives are changing. But, please, don’t switch perspectives mid paragraph. A part of me feels like I should be happy that perspective didn’t change in the middle of a sentence at the frequency that Loftis changed perspectives mid scene/paragraph. It made it really hard to follow whose head you’re suppose to be in.
Loftis also had a thing for making a grand reveal out of something that wasn’t shocking at all. Was I supposed to be surprised at the “reveal” that Trik was a Royal and just hiding his powers? It was stated numerous times that Trik was leagues above the other elves working for Lorsan. No one even came close to being as talented as Trik, so why was it supposed to be shocking to find out that Trik was a Royal?
Heck, even the fact that Trik is the King of the Elfin wasn’t shocking. Not only is he the male protagonist, he’s literally called the most powerful. I can’t see just another foot soldier being that powerful.
It didn’t really make sense to me that Loftis felt the need to say that the Forest Lords had taken away Trik’s Royal powers when it was obvious that he still had at least some of them. Sure they might not have been as strong as they were before his memories were wiped, but he still held the obvious power of a Royal. This seemed kind of contradictory to me, but I guess that fits in well with the rest of the story.
A part of me has to wonder about Cassie’s binding to Andaer. It was stated about halfway through the book that a king must perform the binding and then your Chosen will always be your number 1 priority. I get that Andaer and Cassie aren’t Chosen, but they still went through the ceremony. I certainly hope that some repercussion to this happens throughout the story and it’s not just another loose end.
Oh, and while I’m on the topic of matches, I’d just like to say Elora and “Cush” seem like they’ll be really cute together in the rest of the series. Sure I don’t see myself reading the other books to check it out for myself, but Loftis was definitely setting up something between Elora and Nedhudir.
While I think it’s really dumb of Trik to keep the fact that he hadn’t quit yet from Cassie, it also should have been obvious that he wasn’t just going to waltz into Lorsan’s throne room and be all “Yo boss, I’m out”. You can’t just give up a thousand years as a master assassin that easily. Quitting something like that is going to take time and planning if you want to survive it. Sure Cassie might just be an eighteen year old human, but that shouldn’t mean she’s dumb about things. Especially since her soul is able to literally talk to his. Cassie should know better than to expect such a dumb move from Trik.
Finally, I’d like to touch on the final moments of this book. While I could talk about the plot points of things like the Forest Lords saving Cassie from her addiction or Tamsin and the crew fighting Lorsan and his baddies, the thing that’s more important to me would be the way that Loftis described being a queen.
Was it really the right move to say you need to be a bitch in order to be a good queen? Powerful and strong, sure. True in your convictions and confident in your words, that I get. But simplifying it down and just saying you need to be a bitch? I think that truly diminishes the importance of the role of a queen – or any ruler, even. In fact, one could even argue that making this the final scene of the book is telling readers that if they want to have power in their lives and do anything of meaning you have to be rude and bitchy. And that’s just wrong.