Book Review: Stray

Book Review: StrayStray by Elissa Sussman
Series: Four Sisters #1
Published by Harper Collins on October 7th 2014
Pages: 384

Princess Aislynn has long dreamed about attending her Introduction Ball, about dancing with the handsome suitors her adviser has chosen for her, about meeting her true love and starting her happily ever after.

When the night of the ball finally arrives and Nerine Academy is awash with roses and royalty, Aislynn wants nothing more than to dance the night away, dutifully following the Path that has been laid out for her. She does not intend to stray.

But try as she might, Aislynn has never quite managed to control the magic that burns within her-magic brought on by wicked, terrible desires that threaten the Path she has vowed to take.

After all, it is wrong to want what you do not need. Isn’t it?

thoughtIncredible. Exciting. Completely original. Stray is the real deal times like a million!

I love me a good fairy tale. Heck, give me a retelling. I love them both equally. With the amount of fairy tale and fairy tale retellings, I pretty much figured I had seen it all. I was wrong. Stray is unlike anything I have come across before. It reads like a fairy tale, but it is completely unique and fresh. Stray was everything I didn’t know I was hoping it would be.

In Aislynn’s world, all women are born with magic. Whether you be a princess or a servant, magic is within you. But unlike most tales where magic is a good thing, Stray takes a different path. In Aislynn’s world, magic must be controlled, suppressed. Women must stay on the Path, or face the consequences, which are not pretty.

Aislynn right away struck me as a girl out of place. While born into privilege as a princess,  Aislynn never came across as spoiled or snotty. She is a down to earth girl facing a “normal” problem. Despite her best efforts and desire to fit into the norm, Aislynn cannot. Her magic is just that powerful. While Aislynn trying to stick to the Path could have come across poorly, Sussman makes it work. I don’t want to say that I pity Aislynn, but in a way, I did. She tries so hard time and time again, but no matter what, her best isn’t good enough. So, is it her or the system?

Stray is an interesting combination of many elements. While it is based firmly in the fairy tale camp, it strangely also has hints of a dystopian built in. The Path system that women are confined to, ultimately, is the villain of Stray. Sure, there is the “true” big bad villain out there in the background. The verdict is still out on her since we actually have not seen first hand what she is capable of. Will she actually be a villain? Or is she kinda like Aislynn, a person who never fit in right so that makes her evil? Only time will tell for certain.

A completely fresh and original take on magic. A must read for fairy tale lovers.
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