Malcolm washes up on a distant shore with no memory of who he is or how he got there. All he remembers is his name and a flash of a field. A chance meeting with Jonathan and his sister, Sophie, at least allows Mal food and shelter, and the beginning of a friendship. When a meeting with an old man with magic gives them the barest insight, the three set out on a quest to find the missing queen and hope to recover Mal’s memories along the way.
The three encounter obstacles at every turn, and Mal gets some clues as to who he is. One conversation with a prince shows them the magic is broken in the world. The next prince gives Mal memories of who he used to be, and though Mal longs for Robin, his best friend for whom he feels so much more, Mal isn’t sure why. Until the curse upon his lifted by yet another prince and Mal’s memories return. And he realizes it’s so much worse than he expected.
Mal needs to clear his name, but he also has to find Robin and his Merry Men in order to stop Red Riding Hood from taking over. Rapunzel gives them more clues. Snow White and Charming offer aid. And Mal, the big bad wolf, reunites with Robin, only for the world to once again be thrown into chaos. War is coming, and Mal, Robin, and all their allies are determined that this time there won’t be a power imbalance. They’ll do whatever it takes to save the world.
Okay, so, yeah. The premise of this book was so clever, but for me, it failed in the execution. The author took bits and pieces of dozens of fairytales and it was interesting to see how Sinclair reassigned the different roles and pulled out certain bits of the tales to twist into a new story. The world building was minimal at best, but I could have overlooked that if this story had more development.
And that’s where this book lost me. It was underdeveloped to the point of not always making sense. While the characters were interesting, I spent the entire novel feeling like I was just getting the bare surface of the story. Time jumps made the story feel stilted. Dialogue that should have been clever fell flat. The relationships between the characters were uninspired and lackluster. So much action and so many characters were jammed in that it felt jumbled and piecemeal. I wanted more from this, and with every turn of the page, it failed to deliver.
So many of the important bits of this story were told in passing, a few paragraphs or even sentences and on to the next thing. It didn’t feel as cohesive to me as it should have, and I spent much of my time wondering what exactly was going on. The lack of explanation was a detriment to this story. Not to mention there were glaring typos and grammatical and punctuation errors that made my eye twitch.
All in all, I wanted so much more from this book as, like I said, the premise is interesting. The characters had potential. But it failed to give me a story that drew me in, and ultimately very little worked for me. It’s the first in a series, but I won’t be continuing.