Saturday, April 4, 2015


Ellen Sinder is miserable. Her father recently died and before she could even begin to heal, her evil stepmother revealed her true colors. This marked the beginning of Ellen being treated as a servant in her own home and being subjected to all kinds of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse. She can't just leave because her school enrollment in high school and university are dependent on living in her family home. A few things are keeping her sane: her two best friends Ruby and Cami, her magical talent to charm, and the hope that she can eventually get away and make a real life for herself. Unfortunately, her situation is getting worse and worse as her stepmother gets more oppressive, her friends seem more distant, and her life is just disintegrating before her eyes. When will the downward spiral end?

Wayfarer is the follow-up-not-quite-sequel to Nameless (which I absolutely loved) and focuses on Ellen Sinder. This retelling of Cinderella vastly expands the unique fairy tale world that draws upon many recognizable tales and combines them in interesting ways. Again, Lili St. Crow just throws the reader into the deep end of her world with Families, Jacks, Twists, and the Deprescence. Things gradually come into focus, but the beginning is a little disorienting, especially having read the first book over a year ago. The Deprescence occured in the 20's and was an explosion of magic that ruined a lot of the world and a lot of people in it. People were Twisted into monsters and Jacks, which made them no longer fit to be a part of normal society. The positive side is that some people have Potential that means when their power settles, they can do wonderful or terrible things with their magic. Magic is used in everything from clothing and fashion production to medicine. The magic system is more explored here through Ellen's eyes and it seems to be a mix of magic and science, but without any specific explanation to really blend the two together. I liked the apprentice system for beginning Charmers and the way magic and Charms are integrated into their everyday lives.

Lili St. Crow takes the flat, stock characters of fairy tales and gives them dimension and at times unexpected characteristics. Ellen is obviously Cinderella, but she isn't the stereotypical enslaved but cheerful princess. The abuse definitely takes a toll on her. Hearing day in and day out that she is useless and unwanted wears on her and she subconsciously internalizes the insults. Leaving home isn't as easy as her friends make it sound. The abuse may be bad, but the unknown may be worse. At least she knows what to expect at home. Leaving could have her be without food, education, or even a place to sleep. She's determined not to be a burden or charity case to her friends. So many people are blind to Ellen's abuse that she feels completely helpless. This sentiment is repeated often, but is misguided since her friends only want her to be safe and happy. I grew annoyed with Ellen's insistence that her friends only wanted her around as charity or as some cruel joke when they showed time and time again that they were worried about her and cared for her, She also lashes out at them again and again until I was surprised she even had any friends left. I would have liked Ruby and Cami to have a more major role in the book. Most of the book has Ellen making horrible decision after horrible decision and simply ignoring or hiding from the consequences. This part was incredibly frustrating to read and I just wanted to talk some sense into her. Once she figured some stuff out and realized her own worth, I began to enjoy the novel again. Although it infuriated me, this portrayal of the effects of abuse is pretty accurate.

The other characters are equally dynamic.  Cami and Ruby are amazing friends who couldn't be more different from each other. Cami is quiet and sweet while Ruby is loud and brash, but they both care for Ellen in their own way. I felt so sorry for them when Ellen refused to accept their help or listen to their advice. Avery is the Prince Charming here and while he was sweet and nice, the romance could have been developed a bit more. The evil stepmother is the only character that is completely and flatly evil. She has the ability to charm other people, especially adults, into not seeing her horrible side, which definitely reminded me of some real people I know. I loved to hate her and the depths of her evilness surprised me, The fairy godmother Auntie is my favorite of the minor characters. She's a weird mix of a typical fairy godmother and the witch from Hansel and Gretel.

I didn't enjoy Wayfarer as much as I did Nameless, but it has the same magical world, darkly humorous writing, and realistic language. Some may be offended or condemn the language as too adult, but it's the reality of how people speak. It was nice to see a YA not censoring itself for its audience for once. My main problems were with Ellen's refusal to see sense for much of the book and the slow pace at times. I still liked the book and devoured it within a day. I can't wait to read the next book, Kin.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins


Beth W said...

Thanks so much for your thorough review! I loved Nameless, as well, and am looking forward to Kin...but I might skip Wayfarer. Ellen was never my favorite, anyway. ;)

Misty said...

I still need to read the first book in this series, though I did finally pick up a copy. =D