Bloodmaiden by Christine E. Schulze
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
There have been countless dragon stories in the fantasy genre. We have seen them in all kinds of different colours and shapes, and we have seen them with all kinds of different personalities. Still, Bloodmaiden manages to give us an alternate view on this overused theme.
The story is set in the world of Sulaimon, consisting of four dragon dynasties, in which dragons live in harmony with the people they protect. But in the dragon dynasty in the north, in the land of Tyrnan, the dragons ask horrible sacrifices of their people. And a young couple, Crisilin and her husband Chalom, have been chosen to fulfil the frightening ritual. By a twist of fate they are able to escape from their certain death, and get the opportunity to free their people for ever. We follow them on their quest to collect the four Aria, parts of a magical song that have been created so the dragons will never abuse any human being.
This book is truly beautifully written. The way the author describes the world, the way she chooses words and makes them flow. It draws you in, makes you feel what the characters feel. There are many sad stories in this book, and I really felt for those characters. But herein lies the biggest flaw too. In some passages we see such amazing writing, but then we have to fast-forward to the next event and the next environment with other characters. There just isn’t enough time to enjoy it.
This story is incredibly fast paced, too fast paced even. We jump from kingdom to kingdom, travel at an inhuman speed, get all important events and plot twists dished up right after each other. There is just no time at all to get to know our travellers, to enjoy the fantastic world that is created in Bloodmaiden. It does keep you at the edge of your chair once the story sets off, but sometimes you need to catch a breath as reader. It sometimes gets a little bit too overwhelming, too much information in one time.
This also showed in the narration and the interaction between our couple. The events are described pretty accurately, but we seldom hear what Chrisilin, our first person narrator, feels, what she thinks about it. And this feels like such a waste, because we have seen how amazing Mrs. Schulze can write, and what she could have done with it, but just didn’t. Our couple never talks, the only interaction we see is them holding hands or sleeping in each others arms. Sometimes Chalom throws in a “Are you alright, love?” and that’s it for deep conversation that chapter. I did buy their love for each other though, there certainly is a bond between them. Sometimes we get a peek into their carefree past, and then they truly shine together.
Another little annoyance I had while reading this is that Chrisilin refers to our world. She once compares something to a roller coaster, or calls a palace “Chinese looking”. How is this possible when she lives in a totally imaginary place? She tells us her aunt has told her about other worlds (including ours, apparently) but then forgets to mention how this different-worlds thing works. It felt like something the author didn’t think through well enough.
This book has so much potential. If it had been longer and more extensive this would have been one of my favourite books. It has everything, but everything crammed in too few pages. I’d love to see what happens when Mrs. Schulze takes her time to write a book. This is a promising author I would keep my eye on in the future!