Isra Sravnheart’s Her Dark Soul is the first in a series of stories about the witch Lady Isra of the Dark and her descent into the depths of magic and evil.
1. Thoughts on the plot
Fairy tales are tricky things for me. On the one hand, they are classic stories that undergird so much of modern story telling that I can’t help but love them. On the other hand, the original form (think Grimm’s Fairy tales) is sometimes tricky to really enjoy because the stories move so quickly, sometimes leaving out character details. I love retellings of these original stories because they often go into so much detail. This book very much follows the original style of fairy tale. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that; it’s a very valid style, but it is not my favourite. As such, the plot felt a little…stiff.
The plot follows Lady Isra on her journey into darkness. She kills a dragon, casts spells of invisibility, tortures trespassers, and the like, There is not a lot of character development, and most of the story is important plot points but little more than that. It was exactly what you would expect of a traditional fairy tale (if about a villain) and in that regard it was well done. I just prefer a bit more detail.
2. Thoughts on the characters
Lady Isra as the main character was described—many times over—as being wicked, or doing wicked things. And, frankly, that was the biggest character development in the book. This is, again, very on par with original-style fairy tales. They are concerned more with events than with the people doing the events, except in very broad strokes. Perfectly acceptable, only I wish there was a little more character development, or at least a bit more backstory to explain why she became evil.
Also, the other characters in the story often just appear out of nowhere. This is again very much in style, but if the character is to serve as more than a plot point, it helps to have a bit more backstory and development.
3. Favourite part
I don’t really have a favourite part of the book. I thought it was good, and I generally like reading stories about villains, but the original style fairy tale aspect of this book sort of threw me off.
Again, I don’t really have a critique for this book except that I didn’t care for the style. However, that’s a personal opinion, as it’s a very valid style and beloved by many people.
Overall, I think this book was good for the type of book that it is. It was coherent, events moved properly and the characters behaved according to their archetypes. Just because I don’t love fairy tales in their original style, and much prefer retellings, doesn’t mean this is a bad book. It’s just not my preferred style. A good book.