Review: Bonded by Michelle Davidson Argyle

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What’s It About?

Bonded is a trio of novellas all based around fairytales.  Cinders tells of what happens after Cinderella is married to her prince; Thirds is a retelling of One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes; and Scales is a prequel to Sleeping Beauty.  Each novella is separate and can be read individually, but they are all bonded together and therefore make more sense when read together.

My Thoughts:

I was very excited to read the latest book by Michelle Davidson Argyle as, not only am I almost always impressed by the fresh and unique writing that she always seems to release, this one is about fairytales.  Before I go any further I should warn you that these are not the happy, fluffy ‘happy ever after’ fairytales of Disney (although I think one of them gets fairly close to it), so if you’re looking for endings where everything is wonderful and fine, this is probably not the book for you.  However, if you enjoy having your ideas and perceptions challenged through unique stories, then I would definitely recommend Bonded.

I read Cinders shortly after Michelle first self-published it about a ago (you can read my review here).  While I could remember parts of it, I was surprised at how much I hadn’t remembered and so it felt as if I was discovering it for the first time.  I have to say that Cinders is my least favourite of the three novellas in Bonded, but at the same time I cannot imagine the stories without it as a foundation.

Because, not only are these novellas all based on fairytales, they are all based in the same world with the same species (elves, faeries, sprites) with the same rules.  I wasn’t expecting this, and have to say that it only created a richer reading experience for me.  I brought the knowledge from the previous stories to the third one ‘Scales’ and I believe that without that prior information the world which Michelle weaves probably wouldn’t have been so easy to understand and believe in.

Scales, without a doubt, is my favourite of the stories, though I am still unsure about how I feel about the ending. I was totally taken off-guard as the story seemed to suddenly turn about completely unexpectedly.  This was the story that I wanted to continue reading, but of course, it is a prequel to Sleeping Beauty so I guess in a way I already know the ending (though I would love to read a continuation of Sleeping Beauty from Michelle).

Despite being set in a ‘faerie world’, the characters all felt completely real, regardless of what species they were (Cinders and Thirds are told from the point of view of humans and Scales is told from the point of view of a faerie).  The world Michelle created felt so realistic to me that I could imagine these stories as fables the magical folk tell each other as legend, in the same way that we pass down fairytales in our own world.  This gave all three novellas a feeling of reality and believability even though all of them involve magic and magical beings.  I would, however, love to know which order these stories happened, as I am unsure if they are told chronologically or not (I don’t think they are, though this didn’t affect my reading of them).

I really enjoyed these new versions of well-known (and not so well-known) fairytales and believe that pretty much anyone would find enjoyment from reading them, except those that need a happy ever after ending (though I would say that the endings of these stories are completely subjective to whether you see them as ‘happy’ or not); and that they will be particularly well received by anyone who loves fairytales or fantasy stories involving magic and magical beings.

Overall rating: 4/5

[Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.]

About the author:

Michelle lives and writes in Utah, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. She loves the seasons, but late summer and early fall are her favorites. She adores chocolate, sushi, and lots of ethnic food, and loves to read and write books in whatever time she can grab between her sword-wielding husband and energetic daughter. She believes a simple life is the best life.

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