Monday 22 September 2014

Book Review - The Girl Who Never Was

The Girl Who Never Was Author: Skylar Dorset
Series: Otherworld #1
Genres: Fantasy | Young Adult
Release Date: 1st June 2014
Publishers: Sourcebooks
No. Pages: 304
Source: Review Copy - Sourcebooks
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
The Girl Who Never Was is the story of Selkie Stewart, who thinks she's a totally normal teenager growing up in Boston. Sure, her father is in an insane asylum, her mother left her on his doorstep - literally - when she was a baby, and she’s being raised by two ancient aunts who spend their time hunting gnomes in their Beacon Hill townhouse. But other than that her life is totally normal! She's got an adventurous best friend who's always got her back and an unrequited crush on an older boy named Ben. Just like any other teenager..


When Selkie goes in search of the mother she’s never known, she gets more than she bargained for. It turns out that her mother is faerie royalty, which would make Selkie a faerie princess - except for the part where her father is an ogre, which makes her only half of anything. Even more confusing, there’s a prophecy that Selkie is going to destroy the tyrannical Seelie Court, which is why her mother actually wants to kill her. Selkie has been kept hidden all her life by her adoring aunts, with the help of a Salem wizard named Will. And Ben. Because the boy she thinks she’s in love with turns out to be a faerie whose enchantment has kept her alive, but also kept her in the dark about her own life.

Now, with enchantments dissolved and prophecies swinging into action, Selkie finds herself on a series of mad quests to save the people she’s always loved and a life she’s learning to love. But in a supernatural world of increasingly complex alliances and distressingly complicated deceptions, it’s so hard to know who to trust. Does her mother really wish to kill her? Would Will sacrifice her for the sake of the prophecy? And does Ben really love her or is it all an elaborate ruse? In order to survive, Selkie realizes that the key is learning - and accepting - who she really is.

I am a sucker for beautiful covers and I'm a sucker for reading books with themes and features I've enjoyed before, so it was no surprise that when I was offered the chance to review this book by the publishers and was told it involved faeries, hidden princesses and the aspect of enchanted worlds, I was bound to be interested. Yes, it was an enjoyable read, and yes, I found myself comparing it to The Iron Fey, but it wasn't without it's issues.

The biggest issue I had with this novel was the world and the descriptions, and it's also were the comparison to The Iron Fey comes in hugely. In the Iron Fey, the world building, descriptions and general imagery was absolutely beautiful, it was in fact, one of my favourite features involved, so when The Girl Who Never Was wasn't as strong in that sector, things suddenly were less entertaining. It's a fantasy world, with created versions of our world by one character and another world of faeries, yet neither of these options had a lot of actual world involved. Our world had train lines that led to the faerie world, which really isn't that believable personally, the faerie world had, well, I actually don't know what the world had that well because you couldn't imagine anything because you weren't told anything. In a fantasy book, I expect a tangible world, and this is something The Girl Who Never Was had, which is quite a shame, because if it had, the rating and my enjoyment would have been much, much higher.

Other issues I had with this novel were the romance and some of the plot and characters, however, bare in mind, there were good parts to this novel, and we will reach there eventually. The romance was, well, developed outside of the book to put it politely. There was no slow burn, there wasn't even an instalove, which on this occasion, would have even been acceptable, but no sir'e, there was just a 'we've liked each other for ages in the time before this book started' and that isn't good enough for me. Then to mention one half of the romance then goes MIA for half of the novel, say what? Really, the most the romance did was developed a plot arch and created character development within the main character Selkie (what on earth kind of name is that?). I couldn't connect or relate to the romance, I didn't feel the passion and I couldn't see what the appeal was between the two of them, so that was not a winning formula. Combine that with dragged on scenes that really could have been dealt with sooner rather than later, information dumps around 20 pages long and a few characters that, quite frankly, could have done with being killed off within the first half through boredom, the book really did have it's faults, however, now comes the good bit.

I actually quite liked Selkie as a character. Her need and want to discover her Mother was strong, as was her relationships with her Aunts and her Father, and even within the fantasy aspects and faerie feels, the actual character development she went through, from no answers to learning to use her skills, both intelligence and her genetic skills was fantastic, she was powerful, independent, caring and loyal, she put her faith in those who had proven themselves rather than people who wanted trust and most all, she did have some inner strength that some main characters can be without, however, this inner strength and independence did fail a little in the ending 'cliffhanger' that wasn't that cliffy and her learning of her skills could have been dupped as too quickly learnt, but I really didn't mind this too much. I also quite liked the overall plot, even if it did seem to take place over a few days, but the best part was the friendship between Selkie and Kelsey and it's best friend relationships that usually get clouded over and forgotten within a romance, but it never was throughout this novel and I appreciated that. Friendships are underrated in young adult novels these days and this was a wonderful feature that was explored with loyalty, dedication and love in many ways.

This novel wasn't without it's cliché and predictable issues, but it was enjoyable and I can't deny it that. Even when I wonder whether I should continue reading it, it had this encouraging feel within the writing to continue reading it, and I did find myself wanting to know more. My issue with the sequel is that it feels as though there's too much to manage in two books, there's three other important characters to find, a romance to rekindle (if they must..) and more character development to be created, and that personally sounds like an awful lot, which makes me wonder whether this will be more than a duology, but I shall be reading the sequel thanks to Sourcebooks, and I will be interested in where the series goes, but until then, I will consider this a book that others should consider a fair amount before they decided to try it. It's not for anyone and I personally wouldn't want to chance recommending it to anyone.


  1. Oh, this doesn't sound promising. :| I admit, I'm not hugely sucked in by the premise/cover at the moment, buuut now? Nada. The cliches worry me. I haven't read The Iron Fey yet, but I would probably try that instead, eh?

    1. It had so much potential too, it's a shame! I would recommend the Iron Fey over this series, there's just more in the world and characters I think. I will read the sequel for finishing the series reason though ;)

  2. Eek. I too am a sucker for covers (okay, let's be honest, which book worm isn't??) but I find that makes it all the more disappointing when the book doesn't deliver. I've read The Iron Fey so I'm worried I would have many of the same issues as you. And I find it quite odd that the romance has such issues when the cover makes you think the romance is a big part of the story what with the guy and the rose and whatnot.

    I'm glad you enjoyed it overall, but yeah. I'm going to have to pass. :/ Boo!

    1. Exactly, we're like book magpies, it's terrible. I do think that because I really enjoyed that series that I was let down by the things in common, but the romance was such a- well, I don't know, it wasn't really there. He was AWOL most of the novel.. least you're warned eh? Better than reading a sucky book and regretting it :)

  3. Eeek, one of my big pet peeves is when paranormal or dystopian books skip over the world building, because that's important for letting us know about the book as you said and truly making us believe it. A shame there were lots of cliche and predictable things too. At least you enjoyed Selkie as a character. Great review Amanda!

    1. I think it's really important, consider her whole world is a lie, and then being taken to another 'world', it's hard to actually think about what it looks it.. predictability sucks, but Selkie was a great character, and the friendship, a big yes on that!

  4. I'm glad it was still enjoyable, even with all the issues you had with it. I am such a sucker for a pretty cover, it was a large part of the reason I was so desperate to read this book. Your review has made me really glad I passed on it in the end. I don't think it's a book I would have ended up enjoying.

    1. I'm still giving the sequel a chance, but generally, I think you would have disliked it hugely..


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