Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Innocence Lost by Patty Jansen

Innocence Lost by Patty Jansen is the first book in the For Queen and Country fantasy series, which is not related to any of her other series. It's set in a fantastical Dutch-inspired land and is actually pretty short for a fantasy novel.
Johanna has a special gift. If she touches wood, she sees the wood's "memories". The problem is, her gift is strictly forbidden by the Church of the Triune.

The wood shows her that a fierce army is headed for the city of Saardam. Unaware of the danger, the kingdom is instead happily anticipating their annual ball and gossiping about the arrival of the mysterious crown prince whom no one has seen in years.

Johanna has to tell someone, but who and why would anyone believe her?

This was an enjoyable read. It's brevity and style made it an easy read, which was exactly what I felt like at the time. It did end on a bit of a cliffhanger, however, so fair warning for those that don't like 'em. The second book, Willow Witch, is already out, if that helps, however I suggest not reading the blurb since it does rather spoil the end of Innocence Lost.

Johanna is the daughter of a rich merchant. She doesn't like dresses and isn't keen on marrying but, as her father points out, if she doesn't marry someone, she can't inherit the business. Even better, if she marries the prince, she will be allowed to inherit in her own right, and not only through her husband. But, when she finally meets the prince, she discovers why he's been in seclusion for most of his life.

<spoiler for prince's condition, revealed about halfish way>
The prince has some sort of intellectual disability. The entire extent of his issues aren't clear, but the term bandied about the most by characters in the book was "halfwit". There are problems, of course, with his inheriting the throne and, for that matter, finding someone to marry (the fact that his father pissed off a lot of nobles doesn't help on that front either). I thought the matter was dealt with well enough and almost every cringe moment had a counterpoint.
</ end spoiler>

The other characters are Johanna's market friend, who also has magic and who spends the whole book bewitched (or something) into not being able to talk. We only really learn about her from Johanna's perspective. Well, I should say, the whole book is in close third person from Johanna's point of view. But the other central characters, Johanna's maid and her father, show more of themselves on the page by interacting more directly (and we still get Johanna's commentary on them).

The prose is easy to read and not overly flowery. There were some very memorable lines/scenes throughout. I want to share one of my two favourites (the second is a spoiler, so I won't).  It can pretty much be summarised with this quote:
Kylian said softly, “You know you’re not like any woman I’ve ever met?”

Johanna turned her head sharply to him. “Then you haven’t met any real women, only dishrags.”
I quite enjoyed Innocence Lost and I definitely want to read the sequel at some point. *eyes scary TBR pile* I recommend it for anyone after a light, non-strenuous read. I should also note that it's not YA — the main character is 24 — but it's not that far off. Also, being quite short, it's obviously much less complex, plot-wise, than BFF books.

4 / 5 stars

First published: March 2014, Self-published
Series: For Queen and Country book 1 (of 4, I think)
Format read: eARC
Source: author via NetGalley
Disclaimer: Although Patty is a friend, I have endeavoured to give an unbiased review
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge

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