18 March 2011

ARC - Exile by Anne Osterlund

For a princess, love might be the most dangerous vice of all.

Crown princess Aurelia is a survivor.  She survived attempted assassination.  She survived the king’s rejection.  She survived her mother’s abandonment.  And now, in exile, she must survive her kingdom—from hostile crowds to raw frontier to desert sands.  But even as unknown assailants track Aurelia and expedition guide Robert, she knows what her greatest risk is: falling in love.

God, I freaking loved this book.  Fantastic prose, loved the character development and all the emotional upheaval will make your heart ache.  I was afraid at first that I would have to reread Aurelia to get the characters fresh in my head and get the story straight, but I went ahead and read a bit of Exile as soon as I got it and realized it wasn’t necessary.  I’ll tell you why…

The characters were more alive than ever.  They came back as if I’d just finished reading Aurelia.  Aurelia was up and fighting, straining against the unexpected bounds her expedition set on her.  Robert, frustrated as ever, trying to tell her not to be so reckless and stupid.  The two of them are presented so well.  It’s so easy to imagine their relationship and with Anne Osterlund’s expressive writing style, everything comes alive—including the increasing heat between our two MCs.

I said fantastic prose, and I meant it.  Right away, I found a passage that I just had to make note of.  (I’m serious when I say this.  I always keep an index card inside the book I’m reading so I can make note of this stuff for my review.)
“Eyes watched her.  From behind pitchfork tines and around morning glory trellises, through the gnarled apple trees, and under the long, crisscrossed shadows of orchards…She tried smiling at the onlookers , but they ducked beneath their leafy screens and sank to darker slate-gray depths.”
Excerpted from ARC paperback edition p. 7
I wish I could share some of my favorite bits of prose, but they’re cliffhangers.  Oh boy, can Anne Osterlund leave you a cliffhanger.  Usually books don’t take me by surprise but I gasped a few times throughout this book.  It might have been due to the slight change in her writing style.  She had a tendency to write punchier sentences instead of the longer flowing kind.  I think it’s what really made the emotion pop out in this book.

IEU: immense emotional upheaval.  Aurelia was struggling with her traumatic memories of court, as was Robert.  Aurelia was also challenged during her expedition in more traumatic ways than ever.  Reading about her heart-wrenching reactions made me feel like a peeping tom.  Like being in the room when someone’s crying.  I think this feeling speaks of Anne Osterlund’s ability to bring out the soul of a character.

I love how it all comes together.
  I was so swept up in the adventure, thinking what the characters thought, that my Reality Button was turned off.  It’s what usually clues me in on what’s going on—what the author is trying not to tell you.  But as I said, the characters…you think what they think and when they put it together, I was suddenly going, “Ooohhhhh!!!” when it clicked for me too.

This is now the third novel I’ve read of Anne Osterlund’s and personally, I hope I have the money and means the day her tenth bestselling book comes out.  I was so honored that she thought of me for a review copy. :)  Definitely one of the Cucumber Fairies. XD

If you haven’t picked up any of Anne Osterlund’s work, you need to get on that.  Like, right now.  As in, this second.  In fact, why are you still even bothering reading my review, which doesn’t do her work nearly enough justice?  You need to be at the bookstore picking up one of her books.  Why are you still here?!

Book Info:
  • pages – paperback, 304
  • published – April 28, 2011
  • publisher – Speak
  • genre – fantasy minus the magic
  • received via – A Cucumber Fairy (translation: the author)
  • rating – 5/5
  • previous works -