My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If I could mark this as 10/5 stars, I would, but that's impossible, so 5/5 it is, with much hearts and swoons.
Forsyth Turn, our adorable narrator of this story, has always been the secondary character in life as the younger brother of the Great Hero, Kintyre Turn. The bookish, sensitive man who stutters, is prone to fat and is at serious risk of growing old alone and forgotten, will never be the Main Character. It doesn't matter that he's also the Shadow Hand, the King's chief spy, because he doesn't actually get to do anything heroic, not where people might actually see him. The young woman brought to him for healing intrigues him - she must have been very strong to have been able to resist Bootknife's torture and the Viceroy's evil. She also seems to know a lot about him without ever having met him. But of course, no matter what Forsyth thinks of her (that she is beautiful, she is strong, she is admirable), she's not meant for him. Remarkable women turning up at Turn Hall are always meant for Kintyre.
I loved the story from the first word, but after this declaration by Sheriff Pointe at the end of Chapter Two, I was totally sold:
"I don't believe it. I don't, Forsyth, and I don't care what you say. They're just fairy tales made up to scare bad kids into eating their vegetables. There is no such thing as The Last Chapter, there is no such thing as Authorial Intent, and there is no such bloody thing as the Great Writer!"The Untold Tale is delicious, each word meant to be savoured, breathed in, nibbled at, full of hidden delight and wonder. Frey has a beautiful writing style - all at once slightly old-fashioned and delectable, whilst also being modern and quick-paced. It's tongue-in-cheek and it's serious. It's like an epic fantasy and a modern YA all in one. It is a book for every bookworm or geek who has wanted to enter the worlds of their favourite books, to experience for themselves the wonder of Narnia, or Middle Earth, or Hogwarts, or the Rain Wilds, or in this case, Lysse Chipping. But most of all, it is a book for writers - and Frey delivers.
She pokes at every trope in fantasy adventure stories there is: the damsel in distress, the knight in shining armour, how the MMC always has to fall in love with the FMC; and brings up increasingly common conversations/debates in writer/reader circles (or in the world): female agency, white male privilege, sexism and misogyny in books, Strong Female Characters, diversity, sexuality; all while being extremely entertaining.
Lucy Piper knows everything there is to know about The Tales of Kintyre Turn by Elgar Reed, having written her dissertation on it, but living it is a different thing altogether. And the further she gets into the real world of the books, the more she realises how chauvinistic it is. It's a world that's built to counter her every thought and reaction - but one that's gradually changing because a right word at the right time always makes a difference.
I love it.
* I received a review copy of this book via Edelweiss.
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I probably should slap on a reader warning that this book contains sex.