Title: Penny White and the Marriage of Gryphons
Book Blurb per Goodreads: A blast of wind flicked hair from my face. Long toes wrapped around my waist, claws prickling through fur and clothing as I was snatched from the ground. The dragon lifted me high into the grey skies above Llundain. Of the many words going through my head, Oh, bother, was the only one worthy of a priest.
When I’d discovered the existence of Daear, Earth’s magical parallel world, I thought all of my dreams had come true. Riding the handsome dragon, Raven, arguing with my gryphon Associate, Morey, and raising Clyde, a mischievous snail shark, lessen the monotony of my life as the priest of a small village church. And I’ve also met Peter, a man who agrees with me that Doctor Who and single malt whisky are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
But Raven has gone missing, and finding him would mean a hazardous trip to the Arctic. Morey’s attempts to prove himself worthy of marriage to his love, Taryn, are putting all of us in danger, particularly my younger brother, James. Can I keep those I love safe in a world which has little love for humans?
Book Review: I’ve loved every one of the Penny White books, so naturally, when the author offered to let me review Book Three of the series, I jumped on the opportunity (though I wasn’t nearly as fast to write down my thoughts).
So without further ado, here is a closer look at the book, examining the Narration, Content, Characters, Artwork, World-Building, and my Overall Response.
Narration: 4 out of 5. As always, the first person telling of events is perfectly Penny. Everything is seen through her eyes, and while there isn’t a great deal of focus on smells and tastes, this fits the main character, who can often be no-nonsense and practical (unless there truly is something noteworthy to taste or smell).
However, there are moments when one could wish for just a touch more detail about what people look like, where they live (in terms of things like colors and textures), and how they interact, physically. For example, when Penny says she and her boyfriend, Peter, share a goodbye kiss, she holds him close, but no details are given on how that’s achieved (which, since this isn’t romance, is technically fine, but it makes picturing character interactions much harder). And the same happens when her brother, James, first walks into the room. We’re told some details about his actions, but nothing of his appearance, how he’s dressed, and what his expression looks like (but again, this may just be Penny; focusing on what people do and say, in a big-picture sort of way, may be more important than noting expression, outfit, or the look and feel of something).
Content: 3 out of 5. This novel definitely came across as a bit choppy in terms of plot. Penny loses the knife she was given by Raven, so when he disappears, she can’t summon him…but how she loses it didn’t make complete sense, as the dragons were supposedly afraid of her and her blade. I just couldn’t see one of them taking it from her and eating it, no matter how jealous of her they were. The trip to the arctic and Penny’s short-lived term as an interim minister living in Lloegyr felt like isolated incidents, especially when juxtaposed with the various challenges that Morey and his team must go through to prove Morey’s worth to marry Taryn. It felt like certain things happened because they had to, for the plot, rather than flowing naturally, and it reminded me more of the episodic fantasy stories of people like Lewis Carroll or George MacDonald than the earlier Penny White books.
Characters: 4 out of 5. This is always one of the strongest areas of the Penny White books, as the characters are all defined, unique, and delightful. However, in this one, there were a few lapses where I just wasn’t sure they were acting as themselves. Raven’s signing up to serve one of the gryphon clans made sense, in terms of keeping him in the plot, but I couldn’t see himself doing such a thing, not given his monstrous pride. He’d lost his belongings and home, but it didn’t seem like he needed them that much in the first place, not when he knew how to get to places where such shelter wasn’t required. And then, being vague to not spoil the plot, a few of Penny’s choices and actions towards the end of the book didn’t make sense, either, to where either she was having thoughts that we weren’t privy to or she was reacting instead of thinking…which seemed unusual for her.
Artwork: Subjective. I felt this cover design was a little odd, as the posture of Penny seemed almost calculated to be alluring and hardly priestly. Given how her actions didn’t seem at all in keeping with this, I thought it was an odd choice, but I appreciate the consistency of the overall look, to where the series clearly belongs together.
World-Building: 5 out of 5. Possibly because of the varied, episodic nature of the plot, I felt like we were really able to get to know Lloegyr in ways we’d never experienced before. The general social structures were continued, but we got to see more of their daily lives, their customs, and civilization, all without feeling like there was any info-dumping or “I’m going to go do this so we can see together how things work” sorts of excursions.
Overall Response: 16 out of 20, or 4 overall. I really enjoyed how Penny’s brother, James, was able to grow and develop in this novel, and I can’t wait to read what happens in Book Four. If you enjoy thoughtful stories of action, adventure, romance, and friendships, I’d definitely recommend you pick up the Penny White series.
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Copyright 2017 Andrea Lundgren
Cover image used by permission from the author