Thursday, 1 August 2013

Review: Nameless: A Tale of Beauty and Madness by Lili St Crow

NAMELESS: A Tale of Beauty and Madness
By Lili St Crow

Publisher: Razorbill

Published: 8 August 2013

Genre: Young Adult Fiction / Young Adult Fantasy

A battered child is found alone in the snow by the godfather of the Seven - the powerful Families that rule magic-ridden New Haven. Pap Vultusino adopts the girl, naming her after his dead wife and raising her in luxury on Haven Hill alongside his own son, Nico.

Now sixteen, Camille keeps her faded scars hidden under her school uniform. She opens up only to her two best friends, Ruby and Ellis, and to Nico, who has become more than a brother to her. But even though Cami is a pampered Vultusino princess, she knows that she is not really Family. She is merely mortal, with a buried, uneasy past. And it's not until she meets the mysterious Tor, who reveals scars of his own, that Cami begins to uncover the secrets of her birth - and of the mysterious white-robed woman who calls from beneath New Haven's twisted streets ...


I absolutely jumped for joy when I received this book to review. I am a MASSIVE fan of Lilith Saintcrow and I couldn't wait to devour every page! And devour it I did - in a couple of sittings! It's INCREDIBLE!

Nameless is totally upfront about the fact that it's a reimagining of Snow White but you'd never guess that from the opening:

Of all the cars in New Haven to fall before, I chose Papa Vultosino's long black limousine.

The Dead Harvest had been dry for once, but Mithrus Eve had brought a cargo of snow, a white Mithrusmas for New Haven after all. There was the alley, close and dark and foul. The reason that I ran, I know, was a rat with a loathsome plated tail and beady little eyes. For years I remembered nothing before the rat, which was probably a mercy.

It's dark, atmospheric and subtle and not once is the name "Snow White" mentioned. All the clues are there though.

I didn't have any grumbles about the characters. I loved them all, especially Camille's relationships with Papa Vultusino and Nico. I also can't believe how slow on the uptake I was about which fairytale character Ellie is based on!

I thought the story was well-paced. Saintcrow doesn't rush to reveal Camille's past. She takes her time weaving the story and then creating tension so that you find yourself asking the same questions that Cami does. The reveals are spread out and you can feel everything building but have no idea how it's going to end.

"Little girl," someone rasped.

It was the man with the tan trench coat and the stained red baseball cap. He was gaunt, unshaven, and his dark hair was matted into grizzled dreadlocks. A pair of feverish dark gleams for eyes and a scar-stubbled jaw; his hand bit her upper arm, fingers clamping with surprising, scary strength. Cami flinched.

"I know you, little girl." He slurred as if his tongue was too big for his mouth. He inhaled sharply, his breath whistling.

She had time to be surprised that he didn't smell bad - he reeked, in fact, only of fresh lumber, sap and sawdust - before he leaned close to her face and yelled, the whiskey on his breath burning her nose. "I know you! You were dead!".

Saintcrow has a knack for creating rich, vivid alternative Worlds, which you're dropped straight into without explanations. You piece together the information you're given about Ellie, Ruby, New Haven, the Families, Jacks, the Twists and much more, and because it hasn't been spoonfed to you by the author, it all feels much more personal in your head, if that makes any sense at all!

Don't be put off by the Young Adult tag - I'm *ahem* a bit older than the target age range and I seriously recommend this book! I don't do that often!

Without doubt, I'll be reading the next book in the Tales of Beauty and Madness series, Wayfarer and honestly, you should DO THE SAME!


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