Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Blog Tour + Review: The Empress Chronicles by Suzy Vitello

Published by Diversion Books

Title: The Empress Chronicles (The Empress Chronicles #1)
Author: Suzy Vitello
Release Date: 4th September 2014
Publisher: Diversion Books

In this dazzling first book in the EMPRESS CHRONICLES series by the author of THE MOMENT BEFORE, one courageous girl seeks keys to the past to unlock the future...

When city girl Liz is banished to a rural goat farm on the outskirts of Portland, the 15-year-old feels her life spiraling out of control.  She can’t connect to her father or his young girlfriend, and past trauma adds to her sense of upheaval.  The only person who seems to keep her sane is a troubled boy who is fighting his own demons.  But all of this changes in one historical instant.
One-hundred fifty years earlier, Elisabeth of Bavaria has troubles of her own.  Her childhood is coming to a crashing end, and her destiny is written in the form of a soothsaying locket that has the ability to predict true love.  But evil is afoot in the form of a wicked enchantress who connives to wield the power of the locket for her own destructive ends.
When Liz finds a timeworn diary, and within it a locket, she discovers the secrets and desires of the young Bavarian princess who will one day grow up to be the legendary Empress of Austria. It is in the pages of the diary that these two heroines will meet, and it is through their interwoven story that Liz will discover she has the power to rewrite history—including her own...

Readers of books like Rachel Harris’s MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY will love THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES

Detailed Review: *I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review of the book for the blog tour*

OK, first, I must admit something. I chose to enter the blog tour for The Empress Chronicles because of one thing (amongst many other things): the cover. Yes, I'm ashamed of that. 

After reading the blurb, my desire to read this book intensified- oh come on, who wouldn't love a good historical fiction?

I wasn't disappointed and disappointed at the same time. 

My most heartbreaking moment wasn't to do with any of the characters or even the story, it was the grammar in this book, which was unbearable at times. It had me wanting to take a marker pen and scribble the right form of a word in there. 

The story was written in two voices, Liz's and Sisi's (Elisabeth). It was actually two lifetimes in one story, but they each had a connecting point somewhere in each other's life. This was definitely what I liked.

When I read the blurb, I was expecting more of a time-travel story, but this was different, original- something I like and need. 

I honestly preferred Sisi over Liz, although Liz played an essential part in her counterpart's life. I was happy the OCD part wasn't written too out of character, but I overall had the impression that she was a weak and helpless person. This needs to be changed in the sequel immediately. Sisi was more daring and was pretty much the voice that drove the novel, despite Liz's part of the story. Cory, Liz's love interest, was really pushed to the sidelines, in my opinion, even though he did help with Liz's recovery. It wasn't that I didn't like Liz and Cory; they were good enough, but they could be more.

Having two heroines is an incredibly hard thing to do, so I decided to be lenient about it. AND having a too-perfect main character wouldn't do either, so yes- I would prefer Liz to be flawed than to be perfect. Sisi, please please stay the way you are, in the sequel. That's all I'll say.

The romance in the book wasn't heavy, and I'm not going to fault it because having lots of romance would actually ruin the story. The subject in the book isn't just about the romance; it's also about family and history and much much more. A romance-driven book would not be suitable for a storyline like The Empress Chronicles'.

Fortunately, the writing style was one I liked. It was descriptive, but not too descriptive, not giving unnecessary details to the reader but drawing him/her into the story all the same. It engages the reader well. 

I almost forgot to comment on the twists; some of them were inconsequential, but some were really well-written to the point where I would give the author a round of applause. 

The Empress Chronicles did follow the unsaid trend in the YA book industry though, which frustrated and delighted me all at the same times- a cliffhanger that was unexpected. One that would beg me to read the sequel.

Brief Review: Elisabeth's story is one of intrigue and magic, mixed in with some much-needed spunk; Liz's story is one of love and family. The author skilfully unites them together with just one factor: unfortunate circumstances that is conveyed through a journal. This is what makes me hold this book at higher regards than I would have. If only the novel was more polished, and the characters more likeable, a 5 star rating would have been guaranteed on the spot.

Final Rating: 4/5 'Liked It'


This seemed an accurate description of the magical connection between Liz and Elisabeth,

Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind---Nathaniel Hawthorne

Your Reviewer:

About The Author
Suzy Vitello is a proud founding member of a critique group recently dubbed The Hottest Writing Group in Portland, and her short stories have won fellowships and prizes (including the Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Award, and an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship).
Twitter: @suzy_vitello

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