For Your Consideration: Traitor's Masque

Subject: Traitor's Masque, The Andari Chronicles Book 1
Author: Kenley Davidson
Website: http://kenleydavidson.com/

Some of this is in my review on Amazon, but I wanted to say more about it here.

Give Cinderella some spunk, a backbone, and a whole lot of wit, and you’ve got Trystan, the heroine Traitor's Masque, a new incarnation of the rags-to-riches fairy tale.

First, let’s be honest with ourselves, there have been enough retellings of the Cinderella fairy tale over the years, that it takes something special to shine. I’m happy to report that TM is something special. I have to admit, I was skeptical at first, but the story and the deftness at which it was executed won me over. Sure, we might all know how our fairy tales end, but the journey to reach that Happily Ever After is what’s important. And for this reader, that journey was a lot of fun.

The major delight for me was the dialogue between Trystan and the prince Ramsey. Witty back-and-forth conversation is an art form, and Ms. Davidson is quite skilled at it. This novel feels pretty comfortable on your bookshelf right next to Pride and Prejudice (with or without zombies).

Cinderella’s story is used as a jumping off point, but the divergences from that plot are many—enough that in the end your mind may even reject the comparison out of hand. TM is something classic, but also something new—like a horse-drawn carriage, only the horses are robotic and have rockets for hooves.

I'm hard-pressed to ultimately classify this as Young Adult (YA) fiction. If it is, then it skews toward the older side of young. Ms. Davidson writes for a mature audience and isn't dumbing anything down for her readers to shoehorn (OMG, now there's an outdated reference) her story into a YA mold. But hey, fairy tale aren't just for kids anyway.

Just for fun, and because I love statistical analysis of art, I ran the first page of TM through Microsoft Word's grammar checker, and it came back with a Flesch reading ease of 58.8 and a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score of 10.4. So, the prose is basically readable by those of us who have finished high school. For comparison, What Happened On My Space Vacation rolls in at 79.9/4.8, which is described "fairly easy to read" according to Wikipedia.

As much enjoyment as I get out of reading level...content is far more important when deciding age-appropriateness. As long as your kid is watching PG movies, you're good here. The societal intrigue is complex, but competently explained. The romance is refreshingly pure and wholesome. Violence is minimal (possibly helped by the fact that there are exactly zero zombies in this book). The characters curse on occasion, probably because they're human like us.

The novel is engaging and well-written. So, if you like your classic fairy tales revved up, Traitor’s Masque has a shiny new engine lurking under its classic exterior. As it turns out, even after all these years, Cinderella’s story can still hold quite a few surprises.

Buy the novel here:Traitor's Masque, The Andari Chronicles Book 1. If it ends up being your thing, then the "Book 1" is a clue; there are currently two more books in this series. From the descriptions, characters from the first novel appear in those as well, so there's the promise of finding out more about some of the supporting characters.

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