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Review: The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The House of the
Four Winds

Mercedes Lackey, James Mallory

Series: One Dozen Daughters #1
Genre: Romantic Fantasy
Hardback: 304 Pages
Publication: August 5, 2014
by Tor Books


The rulers of tiny, impoverished Swansgaard have twelve daughters and one son. While the prince’s future is assured, his twelve sisters must find their own fortunes.

Disguising herself as Clarence, a sailor, Princess Clarice intends to work her way to the New World. When the crew rebels, Clarice/Clarence, an expert with rapier and dagger, sides with the handsome navigator, Dominick, and kills the cruel captain.

Dominick leads the now-outlawed crew in search of treasure in the secret pirate haven known as The House of the Four Winds. They encounter the sorceress Shamal, who claims Dominick for her own—but Clarice has fallen hard for Dominick and won’t give him up without a fight.

◆ An ARC was provided by Macmillan for review ◆

The House of the Four Winds is a book that I can see easily crossing between the lines of young adult and adult fantasy. The writing falls a little more on the descriptive side than the typical young adult book, but it's also lighter than one would typically expect to find in the fantasy section of a bookstore. Furthermore, the protagonist Princess Clarice is eighteen and leaving home for the first time in order to make her own fortune.

I do believe that the synopsis is a bit misleading. While these events do come to pass, much of it doesn't happen until in the middle of the book, and as much as I enjoyed reading about Clarice's adventures, I felt like I was just waiting for things to happen. Even after events unfold and the plot really starts moving, however, not much time is really spent developing the intrigue surrounding the The House of the Four Winds or the dangers facing the crew aboard the Asesino.

From the synopsis, I was expecting to see more of the pirates and the sorceress Shamal. However, it feels like the point of the first half of the novel (sailing on the Asesino under the cruel captain) is to bring us to the second half of the novel (landing in the midst of pirates), which unfortunately didn't deliver the swashbuckling adventure that I was expecting. The novel may have benefited from being split into two or putting a larger focus on the events that transpire after the mutiny. As it is, I would argue that the point of all the story is to follow Clarice and Dominick through their misadventures to their happily ever after.

Nevertheless, while I feel like there is intrigue and danger missing, setting sail with Clarice and the Asesino was an adventure of itself. It's been a while since I read a book that takes place offshore, and I very much enjoyed following Clarice on her adventures. The writing is gorgeous and easy to follow, and I appreciate how the language feels appropriate for the setting / time period without being so archaic that it's difficult to process. In fact, the dialogue is a lot of fun to read, especially with the memorable cast we've been given. My favorites though definitely have to be the banter between Clarice and Dominick.

Clarice is a wonderful protagonist. She's so self-assured and confident in herself, clever in the ways of the world, and also kind and generous. At the same time, she has her own insecurities, such as her confusion over her feelings for Dominick and what to do with them... after all, he thinks she's a boy! Dominick is the perfect counterpart to Clarice. Whereas she understands people and politics, he has a hard time seeing the bad in people, which just makes you want to shelter him from harm. The scenes between these two are so adorable; you can just about see stars in Clarice's eyes. The supporting cast is fantastic as well and filled with characters with memorable personalities, such that I didn't find myself questioning who is who.

Overall, The House of the Four Winds is an enjoyable high fantasy on the lighter side with a good dose of romance in it.

Additional Information
  1. The House of the Four Winds
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8 comments on "Review: The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory"
  1. I don't read that much high fantasy, but this sounds interesting. I loved Siege and Storm, a lot of which took place on a ship, and I might just try this!
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

    1. It's a great book :)

      I haven't read Siege and Storm. I've heard great things about the series. I'll have to check it out!

  2. Ah I do not like it when synopsis are misleading, it can take away a little of the fun of the book! However this sounds like a great read and I love Fantasy books lately so much that this one seems right up my alley:))

    1. Yeah, even when I would have enjoyed the book anyway, it definitely helps when the synopsis adequately prepares me for delving into a book. I hope you enjoy The House of the Four Winds! :)

  3. Kris I am so excited Tor sent me an email yesterday informing me they had shipped me a copy and your review has me dancing!

    1. Yay! That's exciting news!! I hope you enjoy The House of the Four Winds!!! :)

  4. This sounds about perfect for me. I like YA fantasy, but adult fantasy seems to deliver a bit more description which often enhances my experience but adult fantasy is usually a bit heavy for me (and my reading schedule). It sounds like this has the perfect balance of the two. I think I'd like this one!

    1. I agree, Candace. Adult fantasy can get really into the details, which isn't always a good thing for those of us that generally read YA fantasy. I hope you enjoy The House of the Four Winds as much as I did, if not more!


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