Title: The Gwythienian
Author: Savannah J. Goins
Format: Paperback, 351 pages
Publication: November 3rd 2017 by Mason Mill Publishing House
Source: Author (thank you so much, Savannah!)
Genre: Fiction—Contemporary, Fantasy
Other classifications: Young Adult
Seventeen-year-old Enzi Montgomery had worn the stone around her neck for years. It was set in a cheap metal fitting, nothing fancy. But it made her wonder if she was crazy. Sometimes, when she had it on, she could disappear. She couldn’t make it happen. It just worked on its own. But always at convenient times, like when she’d needed to hide again from Caleb. Maybe she’d only been imagining it; insomnia could do that to you. The nightmares had never left since that day seven years ago and she’d never really learned to cope with them.
But what if she wasn’t crazy?
When she finds out that someone else has been searching for the stone—someone from another world—she must decide what to do with it. Should she get rid of it? Or find out what other secrets it holds?
I received a review copy from the author which in no way swayed my opinion about the work.
The first title in a planned trilogy, The Gwythienian is an enjoyable if a bit unpolished debut.
It is about a girl named Mackenzi “Enzi” Montgomery who, in the week she turns seventeen, learns not only that her mother has been hiding a huge secret from her but also that another realm exists and is subsequently abducted and taken to it. All for the stone in her necklace. There, she meets a dragon-like creature named Gaedyen who asks her to join him in a quest. Head reeling from her mother’s betrayal and the discovery that someone she thought dead is very much alive and maybe thrilled by the idea of escaping her boring world—along with a haunting childhood trauma—for a while, she agrees. But is she ready to take on such a task? The thing about books and reading is that each encounter is very subjective. And while I think The Gwythienian leaves much to be desired, I quite liked certain parts of it and I’d be remiss not to point out that it has potential and that it might be more fitting for other readers.
“None of the things that I tried to do worked out like they were supposed to. All I wanted was to do something right for a change. Was it so much to ask for it to just once work out like it was supposed to?”
Possibly my favorite aspect of the book is the dynamics between the MCs, Enzi and Gaedyen, which is delightful. There are banters and the gap between the two—the gap born out of innate differences between two different creatures—is often amusing. I also appreciate the fact that the heroine is fat and has to go on this very physical journey. That on top of her insecurities on top of her traumatic past. Really, Enzi has every reason not to agree to this, and I’m not even talking about her companion being a sentient dragon whom she just met. She has very real and very immediate concerns: the trip is physically demanding and her body isn’t used to running and long hikes. And yet, she takes up the challenge and not once is the subject brushed off. And then, there’s—and this is not a spoiler; it’s hinted at in the synopsis and the first chapter of the book—implied sexual abuse. I thought it’s handled well. It’s this constant sort of presence and, even though the ordeal happened years before the story begins, it’s evident that Enzi is still processing it.
“Wasn’t I entitled to a little privacy where my body was concerned?”
I must say, however, that I’m not well versed in fantasy novels but the world building seems pretty solid to me. The mythology of it is accessible and easy to follow and, despite its own set of vocabulary, I had no trouble with information overload. Although, I did find the pacing odd; the book almost opens in a conflict then nothing much happens until you’re suddenly moving from one significant scene to another, all crammed towards the last half. I believe there is a compelling way to introduce the plot line and establish your characters even if there are just pages after pages of dialogue between them. Instead, there are moments in the last third of the novel that felt strained.
“”That’s a lot to take on, Gaedyen.”
His eyes bored into mine, and they were full of such sadness that I felt a tear emerge from my own for his pain.
“Has your future never depended on proving your worth?””
If you’re looking for a quick, enjoyable read, check out Savannah J. Goin’s The Gwythienian.
YA fantasy novelist and professional dragon wrangler, Savannah J. Goins, fell in love with the genre through C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia many years ago. Since then, it’s been nothing but dragons, sword fights and talking animals. She spends her days in a veterinary hospital working with real animals, and her nights giving voices to the ones in her stories. She also enjoys sketching, drinking tea and coffee, and discovering new bookshops.
Have you heard about this title prior to reading my review? Will you be checking it out anytime soon? What is your stand on books having their own sets of vocabulary? And what are your favorite YA fantasy novels? Let’s talk!