Daughter of the Centaurs (Centuriad, #1)
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Daughter of the Centaurs (Centuriad, #1)
(K.K. Ross/Kate Klimo), 2012
New Release! I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for the purpose of review.
(NB: It looks like the author's name on the cover changed between when the review copies were released and the final book release?)
Premise: Malora wants to grow up to train horses like her father before her, but when disaster strikes their tiny settlement, she and the horses must learn to survive alone in the wild. That is, until she meets travellers from a city of centaurs, who are rather surprised that any humans still exist. Should she run the other way, or try to find a place in their society?
On the one hand, I like the main character. She's got a lot of heart and fire, and I found her moral and emotional struggles convincing. I liked quite a few of the supporting characters, and the two societies we see over the course of the story are both interesting.
On the other hand, I think the larger setting is flat-out stupid; more on that below. It's the sort of thing that might be saved by extremely clever explanation, but that explanation was not forthcoming in this volume. Overall, I was aggravated by the number of plot threads that were teased or foreshadowed and then not dealt with. I understand that this is book one of however many, but the plot climax for this book was fairly lacking. It didn't feel like it had any stakes, and the other players in the final conflict only appeared very late in the book. It didn't leave me interested in the next book, it left me wondering whether the author actually has a plan.
Now, all that said, I loved the early part of the book, about Malora living on the plains with her horses. It was a bit like a fantasy Island of the Blue Dolphins, and once it lost that, I never really connected with it again. I did mostly enjoy the rest of the read, but I thought it could have been so much better.
In order to explain this a little more, I'm going to have to give away a few things.
So, Spoilers Ahead for Setting and Foreshadowing.
Pretty far into the book, it becomes clear that this is in fact not a fantasy world, but a future Earth. With centaurs (and satyrs and other hybrid folks), but no obvious magic. I'm sorry, but I have a really hard time just accepting centaurs studying 'ancient' human literature (like Shakespeare and Danielle Steele) without a hair of a hint of an explanation how we got from here to there. We find out that Malora might be the last human (not buying it, even barring some mystical foreshadowing) and that the centaurs massacred many of the humans a few generations back. Now the centaurs have a sort of weird two-tiered society, split between the useless tight-laced aristocracy and the earthy, sometimes-violent peasants. It's obvious that changing this will be part of the plot, but it isn't yet there.
There's also a race of cat-people slaves, but there's no foreshadowing that this is going to change anytime soon. Have authors somehow not learned that you really shouldn't say that a race of sentient beings likes being servile? Can you say: creepy nasty undertones?
More things that frustrated me: There's no hint of explanation why centaur perfume somehow gives Malora clairvoyance or hallucinations. There's one chapter where the satyr scholar thinks about how Malora might be some sort of destined savior. We never see his point of view before or after that, and it doesn't come up again. I hated that chapter.
I liked a lot of things about this book, and I understand that the characters don't know the answers to some of my questions, and that's why the reader isn't given any explanation. Understanding that, however, doesn't mean excusing how jarring many of those unexplained things were.
In the end, I can't give this the benefit of the doubt. I hope that there is some plan for these plot elements, but too little is revealed in this volume, so I'm giving this
2 Stars - An Okay Book
Find out more about Daughter of the Centaurs on Amazon.com