Pub date: August 16, 2012.
The trees swallowed her brother whole, and Jenny was there to see it. Years later, when she returns to the woods where Tom was taken to say goodbye at last, she finds herself lured into a world where stunning beauty masks the most treacherous of evils, and strange and dangerous creatures await-creatures who seem to consider her the threat. Among them is Jack, mercurial and magnetic, with allegiances that shift as much as his moods. Determined to find her brother, with or without Jack’s help, Jenny struggles to navigate a faerie world where nothing is what it seems, no one is who they say, and she’s faced with a choice between salvation or sacrifice-and not just her own. (netgalley.com)
Okay, this must be a joke, right? This is my second book in just as many weeks that I’ve loved so much that I need to check myself. That I need to reign myself in and feebly attempt to keep myself from blathering on like a ridiculous, incoherent fangirl. Is someone screwing with me? Because I can barely handle the awesome right now. Barely.
The thing with THE TREACHERY OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS is that not only is it a wonderfully honest story but it’s filled with glorious WORDS! Words here, there and everywhere! Some of the most amazingly wrought words I’ve found in YA to date and it has revived my hope that YA still strives for quality, that YA readers have a taste for finely written words that read like listening to the most intricately woven concerto you’ve ever heard. In reality Long is Irish and let’s face it, the people on that side of the pond have a tendency of weaving words of a higher quality as the Brits and Irish have a higher breadth of understanding of the English language than us Americans do. Don’t believe me? I consider myself above average in the intelligence department. But nothing made me feel like a dumb effing American like sitting in an English (and I mean in London, English) classroom as the lone Yank and listening to them wax poetic about Derrida and Glas as if they’d been studying it since they were two. So yes, when it comes to the written word I believe those guys are just inherently more loquacious than us. I mean, c’mon. Have you MET Sya?
So reading THE TREACHERY OF BEAUTIFUL things has me floored to the point of drooling on myself. I can haz language? Here, have some words –
||7.0%||“”She stared at another dart in her hand. She could see it clearly. Too clearly. The end finished in feathers, tiny strands of thread tying them to the shaft in intricate knotwork. She reached out with her other hand – huge and fumbling – and tugged it out. It was topped with a tiny, perfectly formed flint arrowhead. Her own blood glistened on it, and on her skin a red pearl formed around the wound.””|
||30.0%||“”It started like a warm summer breeze moving through the trees in late afternoon, a whispering voice in the forest itself. Jack lifted his face to greet it, closed his eyes and inhaled. Sweet summer flowers, all thing in the fullness of life … and beneath it, decay, the moment where everything began to eat itself away.””|
||53.0%||“People, just people, he tried to tell himself. It looked like a sketch done by a child, and yet at the same time, profoundly powerful, as if a great hand had reached down from the sky – or up from the earth – to scour its mark into the land, long brush strokes that glowed with light when the moon spilled over it.”|
||96.0%||“A sound came from her, something between a scream and a clogged drain.”|
||70.0%||“Every story, all those tales she loved as a child, all her escapes … were they all twisted and changed to something dreadful here? And yet, wasn’t that where they came from, all the oldest tales, from blood and pain and misery?”|
||57.0%||“Dreams, some might call them. Lies with a kinder name.”|
WORDS! GLORIOUS, GLORIOUS WORDS! These words painted such a stunning visual setting throughout the story that my life lost sound when I was reading. I was sucked directly into this fairy world and when I put the book down I often had to blink myself back into reality, rub the world out of my eyes and reorient myself with my surroundings.
With that being said the story isn’t without it’s faults. Jenny is naive to the point of aggravation, making deliriously stupid decisions for the sake of being nice. Seeing as how I literally just read Kat Kennedy’s review of this title, being on Goodreads to collect the WORDS samples and her review was right on top so of course I HAD to read it and now I can’t get it out of my head, dammit, she is very right in saying this is in line with old timey fairy tales that center around a virginal MC with the fairy world standing for hedonism that the maiden must fight against with every ounce of her being. This is very true of THE TREACHERY OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS. Jenny is reminiscent of a Disney princess with virtue flowing out of her ears, throwing self preservation to the wind and ultimately defeating evil with her wiles of love and caring. It is a sickly sweet story and the pretty chick on the cover in the white tulle dress is actually relevant and it’s literally playing out a scene in the story.
With that being said the events that Jenny went through are exceedingly brutal. There is absolutely no shortage of character screwing going on here. Jenny does not go in one side of this story and come out the other without some dirt under her fingernails. Look at the first quote I have above and what page it’s on. Literally from the beginning Jenny is being abused and I love it so. While she is unabashedly representative of a pure, light-filled queen she gets the high holy crap kicked out of her in the process. She does suffer from Damsel in Distress Syndrome (DDS) and her requirement of being rescued runs some other characters rather ragged but I was so thrilled with the WORDS and the brutality of the situations that I could easily overlook the fact that I wanted to slap Jenny around for some of the things she did.
The fairy world is true to form in terms of its contradicting beauty and horror. Couple that with the WORDS and you can only imagine what kind of scene Long is setting. I was a little less thrilled with the Jack/Jenny relationship simply because it’s a deviation from an otherwise seemingly accurate depiction of Fae, especially since Jack didn’t have a heart. Literally. I found his fascination with Jenny odd. If it had remained purely business that would have been one thing but I was a little uncomfortable with it’s development.
On the adverse side and to completely throw a wrench into my own opinion of the relationship I like where it went. I like the role reversal Jack and Jenny went through by the end of the book. While it didn’t completely cancel out Jenny’s DDS and her unyielding naivety it softened the blow to something more palatable and I was ultimately rooting for them by the end.
If you’re looking for a more true-to-form fairy tale that isn’t shy about it’s own brutality but at the same time really sticks to its own morality path throughout you’ll find it in THE TREACHERY OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS. But above and beyond that it’s so incredibly beautifully written and Long has such an amazing way with words that you’ll be mesmerized by the lyrical prose the second you start reading. Jenny isn’t really your kick ass heroine. She makes some incredibly dumb decisions for the sake of being nice and she needs to be rescued more often than not but when the situation calls for it Jenny stands on her own. She has more strength than what the story allows her to have and while she’s wrapped in this virginal shroud of old fairy tales there’s a modern fierceness about her that I think will appeal to someone looking for a story about a girl persevering, setting her mind on something and not backing down until she gets what she wants. It’s a story of ups and downs and you ultimately need to decide how you’re going to process it.
That’s another great thing about THE TREACHERY OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS. It’s a story with so many avenues of thought that you don’t have to settle on just one. I absolutely agree with Kat’s assessment of it but I personally believe it’s so much more and that Jenny is just so much more than merely a bastion for virginity. She proved herself within the story. She could have said ‘screw you guys, I’m going home’ numerous times throughout and Jack would have gladly escorted her back to the Edge but she didn’t. Bringing her brother home was her number one objective and not even Jack could come between her and her brother. She made some really crappy decisions and her DDS showed A LOT but she made some really good decisions too and I applaud her for them.
Ban Factor: High – Pagan-ness. So much Pagan-ness going on. Fairies and old gods and witchy queens? Oh noes!