Rowan of the Wood, by Christine and Ethan Rose

The authors of today’s novel were kind enough to give me an intro that has all the info that readers will need, visit this so here it is:

Someone’s Read it Already is excited to host Christine and Ethan Rose, authors of the new, award-winning YA fantasy novel Rowan of the Wood during their Geekalicious Yuletide Blog Book Tour! The authors are stopping by here on Monday, December 15th for an interview.

Rowan of the Wood: An ancient wizard possesses a young boy after a millennium of imprisonment in a magic wand. He emerges from the child in the face of danger and discovers Fiana, his new bride from the past, has somehow survived time and become something evil.

The authors are also hosting a contest on YouTube and giving away a digital camcorder just for following four simple steps. Check it out!

Come back and visit on Monday, read their interview, and post questions/comments. The authors will be available all day Monday and Tuesday to answer your questions. Every comment on this blog is an entry to win a signed, limited edition print of Christine’s Green Man II painting. The authors are also giving away autographed
books and over $600 in other prizes through their website.

Monday, December 15th, is almost my one-year book-reviewing/blogging anniversary, so I’m glad to have a special treat for readers. Anyway, here’s my summary:

Cullen is a misfit boy: he’s a foster kid, he skipped a grade, he’s a bit of a nerd, and he’s shy. In addition to that, his foster brother, Rex, is in his grade, and makes a point of making Cullen’s life miserable. So when Cullen dreams of a wizard, a wand, and a tree, and wakes up to find a birthmark of sorts on his chest, it’s partially a fulfillment of his deepest fantasy, but mostly the scariest thing that’s ever happened to him. Rowan, the wizard, transfigured himself into a wand to escape an attack by the Holy Roman Empire; he has only sort of come back to life now that Cullen has found his wand (in the redwood forests in California, of all places), and now he’s possessing Cullen. He was separated from his wife on their wedding day; she has been searching for him for the last fourteen hundred years or so. Will they find each other? And will it be as they’re expecting? And, uh, what about Cullen, caught up in a story much older than he?

First, I have to mention the cover. I’m sure one can find a picture of it at nearly any of the links above. It’s quite eye-catching, and rather unlike most covers these days, which either tend to sport one hypothetically meaningful item (see: that book), a female or a portion thereof (see: The Bewitching Season or anything by Libba Bray), or a landscape. This is none of the above; it’s vaguely cartoonish, but not in a fashion that implies that what lies between the covers is in any way humorous or insubstantial. The book is in trade paperback form (at least the version I got) and around 240 pages; it reads very quickly, though, and I finished it in one evening.

Of course, just because it’s short, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s lacking in the usual literary traits I analyze. There were some fascinating characters; Cullen wasn’t necessarily my favorite, but he’s definitely a character like Harry Potter or Taran (Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain) or even (*sigh*) Bella with whom a good deal of readers will identify. I liked Ms. MacFey (Maxine or Max), Cullen’s English teacher, better, but then again, I’m probably closer to her age and situation in life than Cullen’s. Cullen’s friends April and Maddy were pretty neat, too; I did like that he had odd female friends, because I felt that that would make the book a little more appealing to girls. I also thought Fiana was great character, and I enjoyed her sections of the book, especially before she went evil. (Afterwards, she was a bit predictable. I like conflicted characters better.)

The mythology in the book was outstanding. It combined a little bit of vampire with a lot of Celtic, and I thought it was an excellent combination. As the female of the writing pair has a degree or two in the field and the male has probably read every fantasy book known to mankind, I’m sure they combined their knowledges to find something that was just a bit unusual. It’s even possible that I enjoyed the chapters in historical settings better than the chapters in the current time, although they gradually got darker. I would be very interested to read more in this series, as well as more by these authors, if they can work up a novel like this their first time out.

There were elements that were a tad predictable. First, it’s a big trope in fantasy to have an orphan turn out to be a big hero. Yes, I understand that they were writing from a position of a bit more knowledge about this situation (foster homes, not necessarily hero status) than the average writer (such as J. K. Rowling), and they did it fairly well, but it’s been done before. Second, some of the characters were borderline between ‘recognizable’ and ‘stereotyped.’ We had the outcast Goth girl with the rough home life; the single, emotional, female teacher; the high-school-stars-gone-white-trash; and the angelic, sent-here-to-teach-everyone-a-lesson disabled (blind) girl. Then again, these are archetypes for a reason, so I’ll assume that in future volumes there will be more character development. And, as I said, I’m looking forward to those volumes. 3.75/5 stars.

5 thoughts on “Rowan of the Wood, by Christine and Ethan Rose”

  1. Ok, well, I read the interview here with authors Christine and Ethan Rose and agree with much of it. I read ‘Rowan of the Wood’ this past summer and it totally brings to mind movie scenes! As a matter of fact, it makes an ideal movie. I had to keep stopping and marking pages for film scene ideas! I immediately went to the woods after finishing reading it, that is how compelling the nature scenes are.

    Really. You should read it. Then you will know what I’m talking about.

  2. Wow! I was thanks for the blog! I seem to have something in common with some of the characters… I’m gonna have to fin this book and check it out. I was looking at their website (www.christineandethanrose.com)and saw I might be able to win me a copy…

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