Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘ To Dream and Die as a Taniwha Girl’ by Benedict Patrick organised by Storytellers on Tour. The Yarnsworld books have been on my radar for a while, so I leapt at the chance to read this one, and I have read the rest of the series too and will be posting the reviews for those at a later date . I hope that you will check out the book and the author, and enjoy the rest of the tour with the schedule in the banner below or (HERE).
Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review.’
There is a price to pay for becoming a story.
Kaimana has defied the gods and won the freedom to spend the rest of her days travelling the collection of tropical islands she calls home.
But the people of the islands have taken notice of her.
They have started to tell her story; for many children, one of their favourite fireside tales is now that of the Taniwha Girl, the brave woman who befriends monsters.
Some islanders even pray to her.
The gods are displeased, but they are not the only ones paying attention to Kaimana’s rise to fame. On the borders of the island ring, an ancient demon – an old enemy of the Crescent Atoll – spreads its influence, and a spider-faced figure shadows Kaimana’s movements.
To secure her own safety, and that of her island home, Kaimana has to make a choice: turn her back on the people of the Crescent Atoll and continue enjoying the life she has won for herself, or give up all she holds dear to live up to the legend of the Taniwha Girl.
I actually binged the previous four books in the Yarnsworld series before this one, so I came to that fresh with all the other stories and the connections in mind. However, I would argue that To Dream and Die as a Taniwha Girl could be read as a standalone with equal enjoyment, although there was something especially satisfying at being able to follow the threads through the books, and revisiting Kaimana and Rakau and I would wholeheartedly advise people to check out the entire series.
There was so much I loved about To Dream and Die as a Taniwha Girl, and I have to say that Patrick knows how to weave an incredible tale within a relatively short book. In a strange way, I would say that there were simplicity and complexity to this book, on the one hand, the language and the storytelling style are fairly simplistic and give the writing the feel of one those tales that can be read aloud or told from memory around a campfire, and matches perfectly with the folkeloreish (is that a word, it should be a word) nature of the story. This is paired with well-developed characters and a world that has breadth and depth, without ever losing the thread of the main story.
I particularly enjoyed how the story itself was interspersed with smaller tales and myths, which were not only beautiful, fascinating tales in and of themselves and told with the weight and affection of tradition, but which were also a clever way of world-building, giving us more context to the events in the main storyline. I would say, however, that it felt in places that the main story could have been expanded a little more, and perhaps that expansion was prevented by these dips into the mythology. That said, those interludes were some of my favourite parts of the book, and the main plotline is satisfying and well-balanced for all that, and it would certainly lose something without those shorter tales within a tale.
This was an emotional rollercoaster of a book, and arguably the darkest of the series which was a little bit of a shock after coming immediately off the others. Patrick made some bold choices with the path this book took, and it worked beautifully, even if there were moments when I was reading them that I wanted to rail against them. However, the ending and the feeling this book left me with at the end were worth the sometimes unexpected flow of the story, the blows to my emotions, and left me in that wonderful place between satisfaction and wanting more.
This was a fantastic read, and I actually enjoyed the fact that it took a slightly darker path than the others. I would highly recommend To Dream and Die as a Taniwha Girl to anyone who loves fantasy rife with mythology, fairytales and with that feeling of a story told across the ages. I am incredibly glad I finally dove into Yarnsworld and will be eagerly waiting to see what the author does next.
About the Author:
Benedict Patrick is from a small town in Northern Ireland called Banbridge, but has been living and working in Scotland since he moved there at the age of eighteen. Tragically, that was quite a while ago.
He has been writing for most of his life, and has been reading for pretty much all of it (with help from mum and dad at the beginning). Benedict’s life changed when a substitute primary school teacher read his class part of The Hobbit and later loaned him the book – he fell in love with the fantasy genre and never looked back.
To Dream and Die as a Taniwha Girl (Yarnsworld #5) – Benedict Patrick – **** (4/5 Stars)
If you’ve read it or read in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.