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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Book Review - Mystic Guardian

In this blog post I'm reviewing the book Mystic Guardian by Patricia Rice. I received this as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.



Here's the summary from the LibraryThing page:
Somewhere off the coast of France a sun-kissed island lies hidden. For centuries, the people of Aelynn have used their magical abilities to protect a sacred chalice. But a beautiful maiden from the outside world inadvertently takes the chalice, and sets in motion dangerous and far-reaching consequences. Now Trystan Enforcer, Aelynn's powerful guardian, must work with her to recover the sacred object.

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First off, I want to preface this review by saying that I enjoy a good romance novel. I love fantasy. A story with romance, mermaids, and magic was such a hook that I requested this from LibraryThing's early reviewer program immediately. I'm also going to add that I'm usually willing to give a book the benefit of the doubt until I reach the end.

Not this time.

I tried, really I did. I got to 15% (thanks to my Kindle I can keep good track of how far I am in a book- I'm relatively new to ebooks and still think this is a neat feature) and even though I wasn't liking it, I gave it a while longer to see if that would change. By 25% I had to admit defeat at the hands of the dreaded beast Misogyny.

I'm assuming that we're supposed to like the male protagonist (Trystan) at least a little and feel some sympathy and attachment to him because he is the main character and half of the "love" story. All I wanted to do was push him- and the other male characters who were all of a similar mold- off a cliff. When the story reached the point that his life had been turned upside down and he was fearing bad things would happen to him, I was cheering on those possibilities of exile and loss of magic so that he would grow up and become a decent character/person. (Perhaps he does; I never got far enough to find out, but I fear things probably just work out for him in the end. Alas.) Far too much of the first quarter of the story (granted that was as far as I got) was dangerously close to him wanting to rape the main female character. Her own reaction to the lust-magic wasn't much better. It skeeved me out so much that I'm surprised I didn't get a headache from all the eye rolling and teeth gnashing I was doing. I had a similar experience with the book A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony, which my friends all heartily recommended and I hated with the burning passion of a million suns for the same reason I disliked this book. I will say that this one didn't bother me quite as much as Anthony's, but after fighting my way through one misogynistic book to the end, I wasn't willing to do it again.

If there's one thing that breaks a book for me and instantly lowers it by at least 3 stars, it's misogyny. This isn't an automatic "I hate it", though, because if there's enough to redeem a book, there's always a chance of it gaining maybe an extra star or so despite this subject, but I just couldn't find enough good to get me past a theme that I despise and to the end of the book. It would have been different if it would have been characters fighting that outlook towards women, but having it repeated over and over again (only broken by periods of the main male character being instead only patronizing towards women- sheesh) means it broke the entire story for me.

There are redeeming qualities here, so I do want to point those out. The story is well-written and, from what I could tell from what I read, there was a good deal of world, culture, and magic-building in this book. I do appreciate these things and they are what gives this the two stars that I'm using to rate it.

This should have been a story I liked. It had the potential to be a book I enjoyed and I'm sad it didn't work out that way. I really hate giving a book a poor review because generally I'll find something to like in almost everything, which is obvious considering that I give most books between four and five stars. As a writer, I know how much effort and love goes into a novel, so I always feel like I'm being rude on the rare occasion I didn't like a book, but things just didn't work out between me and this one. We need to see other people. Others will probably find this book perfectly good and enjoyable- I know it has an overwhelming number of positive reviews compared to negative ones- but if you're like me and can't stomach misogyny, I'd say to give this one a miss. I'm probably not qualified to review it since I didn't finish it, but I just can't bring myself to spend time reading another three quarters of a book I don't enjoy.

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