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Monday, April 2, 2018

ARC Review: Stolen by Jessica Titone

Ella’s no stranger to sacrifice. Pursuing a professional career in ballet demands that she risk everything, including remaining in war-torn London to continue her training. Dancing has always been her singular desire, until reserved American Jesse Cohen transfers to her school. When partnered in a production of Giselle, Ella glimpses a new side of Jesse and works to break through his defenses. Their tentative friendship blossoms into romance, but happiness is not theirs to keep.
Jesse mysteriously vanishes, confounding the authorities and breaking Ella’s heart. When all searches fail to locate him, Ella takes matters into her own hands. She begins with the attic - their secret meeting spot - where a strange melody pricks her ears. Following it, she ventures an unusual attic door, down a dark path, and into an idyllic, magical realm called Arcadia.

She’s found by a gruff forest-dweller named Wren, and the two form a friendship out of necessity. Wren teaches Ella survival skills and imparts two pieces of wisdom: Don’t eat the red berries and stay away from the mountain queen’s forces.

Armed with no evidence other than a strong conviction, Ella believes that Jesse is in Arcadia and resolves to find him. Her mission is plagued by crippling self-doubt, hidden treachery, and resistance from a powerful foe. A substantial sacrifice must be made to ensure Jesse’s safety, but Ella’s not sure her heart can withstand it.

I received a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

I am kind of torn about this novel. It’s pure fantasy, which isn’t something I always love, but it had a lot of elements that I enjoy. Namely a girl finding herself in a new magical world and learning the ropes. Which there was a bunch of in this book.
I found myself disappointed that I saw every twist coming, for example: who the queen was and everything Jesse did.

While I liked Ella’s character and Wren, I felt the author could have taken more time on the world building and character development. That being said Ella and Jesse are both very believable characters, though not terribly unique.

Not only is this novel fantasy, but it is a coming of age drama, which I know will appeal to many people. I would have loved it just for that reason alone, 10 to 15 years ago. Now I see too many of these types of stories to count. That does not discredit it. In fact the coming of age portions are written quite well and very relatable.
I wish the author had done more with Wren’s character than just used her as a plot device, a way to move the story forward.
I loved the scene where Ella follows strange music though an attic door to find Arcadia, it’s my favorite part of the whole novel.
In fact bits and pieces of this novel were amazing, but the ending, for me, fell flat.
I think this author has tremendous potential and would read more by her.

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