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Mysterious Review: ??????? by ????????????


Menolly from Half-Circle Hold is a talented tuner, but her father Yanus doesn’t think that tuning is a job fit for girls. Forbidden from what she loves doing most, Menolly feels ostracised and alone from the sea hold. One day she walks out and doesn’t come back, finding her destiny elsewhere…

Have you guessed what I’ve been reading? I actually have a good idea what it is (I kinda guessed) but I haven’t actually unwrapped it yet so I don’t really know for sure. Carin sent me a mystery book and I started off having absolutely no idea what this book was, who it was by or what it is about. All will be revealed at the end of this review!

Carin picked out for me a fantasy book. It’s fairly short at only 176 pages and it’s a simple, but enjoyable read. It is obviously part of a much larger series, but this book is very contained and actually quite a small story concerning a young girl’s life in a sea hold. I liked how the world-building is slowly and quite naturalistically developed without an overload of information or explanation.

Menolly has a natural gift for music, which seems to be a significant element of their culture as each Hold. The story starts after the death of the Half-Circle Hold’s old Harper, which leaves Menolly alone without anyone who appreciates or understands her exceptional music talent. Left alone, she finds solace walking on her own outside, despite the threat of deadly Thread, a substance that rains down from the skies and burns everything it comes into contact with. Outside, she is free from the restrictive life of the Hold.

Much is made of the fact that Menolly is a girl which is why she finds herself restricted. I do wish sometimes that authors, instead of merely moaning about the fact that she’s a girl and everything, would just show how they are restricted or oppressed.

What I really like about it is the fact that it is a simple story and that it does provide an entrance into this world I actually want to find out more about. I like that it hasn’t tried to cut of a large slice of cake, but just a small slither. I presume this is part of a longer series and I don’t know if it is the first or one from further in, but I don’t think it matters too much. I like the idea that it has not set off on some big storyline, at least not yet or that I know of. Although, maybe it is just a one off? If my guess is right though, it won’t be…

The writing is easy going and not heavy. Sometimes her fantasy terms for things were merely three words bunged together without spaces but otherwise it all felt very real and natural. When I compare it to Brandon Sanderson, her names for people, places and things do feel more natural and not at all forced like his sometimes does.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and many thanks to Carin for picking out my mystery book. Now to see what it is and who it is by!


It’s Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey! Carin’s favourite fantasy author. I figured it would be and I’m pleased I never got to see this cover as blegh! Look at it, hideous I’d never have read it had I seen that. I never imagined Menolly to look like that and those fire lizards look more like dragons crossed with house flies.




The description on the inside cover is:

Menolly, a young fisher’s daughter had dreamed all her life of learning the Harper’s craft. When her stern father denied Menolly’s destiny, she fled Half-Circle Hold just as Pern was struck again by the terrible danger of Threadfall, the killing ropes of death that fell from a nearby star. Taking shelter in a cave by the sea, Menolly makes the miraculous discovery that insured her a new home among the master musicians of Pern Harper’s Hall.

I’m not sure this description would have particularly interested me, or turned me away either – but probably not something that would have drawn me in. Had Carin sent it to me un-mystified I probably would have read it anyway but I feel I would have been more sceptical.

I think the cover would have influenced me a bit, at least in how I imagined Menolly to look and the fire lizards. Either I would have had to just ignore it or somehow incorporate it in. I think that covers do help at least set the tone for how you feel about a book at least to begin with. Of course once you actually get into a book, all that kinda doesn’t matter any more.

I also found that not being obsessive about looking at the cover, or reading the blurb before hand (even though I had kinda guessed early on) had a rather liberating effect in that I wasn’t expecting anything, not even the smallest hint, of what was going to happen. Even the most vague of descriptions can lead you to expecting or thinking something.

Some book descriptions seem to promise something, when it actually isn’t the main part, or even a significant part of the story. Or, they mention something that is going to happen, no matter how vague this is, and I end up expecting it or looking out for it. I had none of this and yet I still enjoyed it, if perhaps not more.

As I said in my initial post about this mystery book, I have in the past participated in book swaps which did involve not knowing the book I’d agreed to read until I received it through the post. In most occasions my idea about the book was probably shaped within the first few seconds of looking at it. They say that as human beings we judge a person based on how they look within the first ten seconds, and I figure there must be something similar going on with books.

Would I have judged this as being too old fashioned, simple and uninteresting had I seen the cover and read the blurb, been able to sniff out reviews before or whilst reading?

I think I would like to do this experiment again one day because I’d like to really explore this idea of how much other things can influence how I read or perceive a book. I really enjoyed reading this and I wonder if I enjoyed it more because of my lack of knowledge or ability to judge it superficially.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 14/06/2012 03:50

    Ack!!! I judge you! This is my favorite book cover of all time. ALL TIME! I love it. Seriously though, I am glad you enjoyed the book. It is in fact part of a trilogy and one of the first books McCaffrey wrote in the Pern series (she wrote The Dragonriders of Pern first). I am so glad you liked it though. I was so afraid you would hate the book. Since you liked it, I’m going to Book Depository the rest of the trilogy to you! You made me want to reread this book for the fourth time! I haven’t read it in years!

    I am working on your book. I am starting to enjoy it more. I have no clue what it is. Not even a guess! I may read a little bit more tonight, but most likely will work on it on the train tomorrow. I’ll let you know what I’m thinking of it!

    • 14/06/2012 04:33

      Aw, Carin, you are the best and most forgiving lol. Sorry for hating your cover. 😛 Thanks for sending me an awesome book.

    • 14/06/2012 08:36

      I better hurry up with my TBR lol.

  2. 14/06/2012 05:51

    What a fun idea, a mystery book! It isn’t a book I’d pick up easily myself, but maybe a a mystery book it would work for me too. I guess if you’re open minded it is much easier to immerse yourself in a book.

    • 14/06/2012 07:28

      I’m far from open minded, hehe, that’s why I wanted to experiment with this. it’s such a pity though that so many books have the title/author at the top of each page as there were quite a few Carin wanted to choose but couldn’t due to that issue.

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