Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff
Clementine DeVore spent ten years trapped in a cellar, pinned down by willow roots, silenced and forgotten.
Now she’s out and determined to uncover who put her in that cellar and why.
When Clementine was a child, dangerous and inexplicable things started happening in New South Bend. The townsfolk blamed the fiendish people out in the Willows and burned their homes to the ground. But magic kept Clementine alive, walled up in the cellar for ten years, until a boy named Fisher sets her free. Back in the world, Clementine sets out to discover what happened all those years ago. But the truth gets muddled in her dangerous attraction to Fisher, the politics of New South Bend, and the Hollow, a fickle and terrifying place that seems increasingly temperamental ever since Clementine reemerged.
I’m not a huge fan of creepy, but I was in the mood for it. I wanted something that was going to give me that scared feeling, make me feel a tickle on the back of my neck in the dark, maybe make me wonder about the what ifs. Fiendish started off with such great promise, a girl locked in a cellar for ten years, tangled in roots, eyes sewed shut, and no one seems to remember her when she emerges into the light. I was so sure I’d made a good choice.
And that feeling stuck with me for quite a while. Brenna Yovanoff’s prose is gorgeous, just so utterly beautiful to read and experience the story through. I highlighted so many examples of this while I was reading, and was greatly enjoying myself. But then, something happened. I can’t even point to what. But I got so bored. The book was taking this meandering pace to get to anything, and nothing much was really happening. Scenes were occurring, but I couldn’t figure out why I needed to see them.
There were even times when creepy things were happening, but because they didn’t seem to serve a purpose, or were just thrown in for the characters to have something to do, I was bored during them as well.
Which is all incredibly unfortunate, because I was invested in the characters – four primary characters for the majority of the book – and I wanted to know more about their ‘craft’, more about their magic. Clementine is our main character, we experience the story through her eyes, and despite the fact of her being locked up in the cellar with no human contact for the last ten years, she’s incredibly well-rounded and settled into herself, into her own personality. Then there’s Fisher – the love interest – it’s almost obligatory in a young-adult novel to have a love interest, and Fisher didn’t bother me nearly as much as others have. Sure, he’s an asshole occasionally, but Clementine calls him on it. And, usually, when it counts he stands up and does the right thing. Shiny, Clementine’s cousin, was awesome. Her and Clementine’s relationship and friendship was great. She’s a bit of a cynic and balances out Clementine’s optimism nicely. Then there’s Rae, who I’d have loved to gotten to know better, but who fascinated all the same.
So, there you have four characters with so much potential that I could barely stand to pause in reading. About halfway through, though, it started to become clear that Fiendish was going to take me up to the edge of what I was hoping to see and never quite deliver.
The characters, and their gifts, never really got the time they needed; the story seemed better suited to a novella than a full-length novel; and the world seemed like it had a lot of thought put into it, but didn’t seem to have a lot of time on the page.
All in all, though I didn’t particularly love or hate anything while I was reading I can’t help but feeling like Fiendish is just lacking.