I read this book as a group reading assignment. Otherwise, I would have never touch this book. And after reading this one, I think I will never read anything written by McKinley.
First of all, the story line is predictable, simple, not engaging, even as a YA book, which means I have lower my standard. Once the story is laid, everything goes as predicted. No surprise, no excitement. So, if you do not like surprises, and expect happy ending in all the books that you read, this book is for you. It does not mean I dislike all juvenile or young adult book, but this one is just below par. I can enjoy Nicholas Flamel series, even Percy Jackon. But not this one.
Secondly, the writing itself is not enjoyable. It is sub-standard, far from beautiful. The author is telling things that I don’t care, and she did not do a great job in the process of telling it. Her descriptions of the setting is bland, and the character is one dimensional.
The story line is, a strong woman, Harry, saved the entire realm, by defeating the invasion by pulling of a very powerful magic, which no one can explain, even the author. That’s all. And that is not even a spoiler.
Many reviewers have already mentioned that the woman character is a Mary-Sue, so I am not going to explore it further. The plot itself started quite OK in the first chapter. The setting is laid properly. And then it becomes boring. Later, going about one third portion of the novel, it becomes better. But later it goes down again, till the end. Even the climax is not good. The story is resolved with one single strike! And that’s all. I feel cheated.
It would be ashamed to categorized this book as a YA. It would be better to consider this book as a children or at least preteen. The vocabulary is not difficult. The story line is not convoluted. It is a decent novel to practice your reading, but not to kindle your love for reading a decent fantasy novel. It is more like a fairy tale instead of a fantasy novel.
As a novel I will give it a ONE STAR. But as a children book, I still can give it a TWO STAR or even a THREE. For avid fantasy readers, avoid it like a plague. There are many other books out there. Don’t waste your time. I begin to regret my decision to read this one.