Thursday, May 31, 2012

Faelorehn by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson

Title: Faelorehn
Series: Otherworld
Author: Jenna Elizabeth Johnson
Length: 3684 Kindle units
Rating: 3.5 stars

The Plot

Meghan has always been a little strange. Her abnormal height and color-changing eyes have always been a source of bullying from her peers. She doesn’t discover why until one night, she accidentally sleepwalks into the swamp near her house, where she is attacked by a pack of violet-eyed corpse-dogs. Fortunately she is saved by the homeless man who hangs out by her school… and who magically transforms into an attractive boy named Cade before her eyes.  Cade tells Meghan that there is a reason for her oddness that she never could have imagined – she is a Faelorehn from a world where Celtic myths are real, and she is in horrible danger.

The Good

Faelorehn is a perfectly readable book. It centers on Meghan as she discovers her true heritage. She knows from the beginning that she is adopted, and I find myself wondering whether her five brothers are also adopted. Either way, I have to give her family credit for either adopting six kids, one of whom is autistic, or for integrating a family of natural and adopted children so seamlessly. Meghan also has a group of quirky friends who are eclectically reminiscent of the outcast kids at a high school.

I like that Faelorehn is based on Celtic mythology. I find the various pagan mythologies interesting, and Celtic has the advantage of being familiar but not overdone. We learn a little bit about the holidays of Samhain and Beltane through Meghan’s friend Robyn, and we actually get to meet the death goddess the Morrigan. Most of the rest of the mythology Meghan is trying to piece through, so hopefully we will learn more about it in the next two books of the trilogy.

The Bad

My biggest issue with Faelorehn is that nothing really happened in it. Most of the book consisted of Meghan waiting around for visits from Cade. He would show up one day, give her limited information, and then disappear for weeks on end. So Meghan got exactly one lesson on how to use a bow and arrow and some vague instructions to look up her heritage on the internet.

I personally am glad that no one has ever expected me to do detailed research on a historic and/or mythical way of life via the world wide web. Though the internet has a plethora of information on almost every topic, there is no guarantee that any of the facts are going to be consistent across web sites. In fact, I have done research on mythological systems for papers in the past, and the more research I did, the more I discovered that the myths with which we are familiar are simplified versions of a more complex belief structure. I definitely would not want to have to do what Meghan did, which was basically figure out the rules of her universe by synthesizing information from web pages.

The Romance

Those of you who are familiar with YA paranormal romance will be unsurprised to learn that Meghan quickly develops a crush on Cade, her often-absent resource on all things Faelorehn. This makes sense, as he is the only attractive boy who has ever been nice to her. We do get a description of Adam the bully that led me to believe that he might also receive a role as a love interest, but I think we are only supposed to realize that his looks are a large contrast to his personality. Cade, on the other hand, is both attractive and kind, so he is clearly winning. Of course, he is also described as being six-and-a-half feet or taller, so I have concerns that he is more realistically “so freakishly tall that attractiveness is irrelevant.”

One thing that kind of irritated me is that Meghan is too strange and “other” to be attractive to her peers. When she meets Cade and the Morrigan, though, she finds them both super-humanly beautiful. I don’t understand why Meghan is not similarly attractive to her peers. It doesn’t make sense that some Faelorehn would be freakish while others are not. I suppose it is possible that, were Meghan’s peers to meet Cade and the Morrigan, they would find them strange, and it is just Meghan who thinks they are attractive. We do not have enough human-Faelorehn interaction for me to test this theory.

Will I read more?

I don’t have any strong feelings about reading more of the Otherworld trilogy. Like I said, not too much happened in this first book, so I’m not sure why I would be excited to read on. I suppose I would like to know what Meghan’s mysterious and ultra-dangerous heritage is, and I am interested to know more about the Celtic mythology, so I might pick up the next I installment to find that out.

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