Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review: Return of the Crown by Millie Burns

**My general disclaimer before all reviews: Take a look at my 
to understand how my reviews work, and the general rubric I use. I give very honest reviews, and while I'm not New York Times critic harsh, I do try to keep it real.**

Return of the Crown by Millie Burns
 Ravyn’s parents are trapped in a magic mirror; her evil Aunt Zelera seized the crown, unleashing the Darkness to ravage the land of Aigerach. Now…the witch wants her dead.

What’s a girl green in the ways of magic going to do?

She’ll bring the Light back to Aigerach and return the crown to its rightful place on her father’s brow or she’ll die trying.
Anxious and alone, sixteen year-old Princess Ravyn sets out on a quest fraught with danger. Armed with nothing but her newfound ability to manipulate the Light, a travel pack of supplies, a snippet of courage and the clothes on her back she sets out to eradicate the Darkness.
A beacon of hope in a dreary world, she draws others to her like a moth to a flame. Connor, a Master of the Light, aims to steer Ravyn clear of the pitfalls of magic. Blade, her best friend from childhood helps her escape Zelera’s clutches. But has he stolen her heart? Ravyn meets many colorful characters along the way – dragons, and harpies, and unicorns. Oh my! Be they friend or foe?
Empress Zelera harries Ravyn’s every step, laying deadly obstacles and traps at every turn. Ravyn can stumble, she may even fall, but if she doesn’t get back up her world will never be the same again.
In this classic heroes journey magic is not always the cure for what ails you. Ravyn may be naïve, but this spirited girl never claimed to be perfect, besides she’s Aigerach’s only hope.

My Review
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My Rating: 6/10
Cleanliness: 5/5

The Return of the Crown was an enjoyable read that took me back to my childhood in many ways. This is written for younger audiences, I assume, just by the tone and content in the story. It is fast-paced, and definitely never boring! You've got elves and sharks, unicorns, and harpies, and all kinds of magical creatures in this storyline. It follows a young girl, a Princess named Ravyn, as she goes on a quest to reclaim her kingdom, save her parents, and overthrow her tyrannical aunt Zelera. 
Admittedly, I was a little put off by the writing style at first. It's probably because I'm not used to reading things meant for younger audiences, but the fact that Zelera cackles and literally muses her hands, and then shrieks in anger at the top of a battlement was a little pungently adolescent for me. What's funny is that I knew from the get-go this author has a fantastic vocabulary. I felt like taking notes on some of these words she used. Lots of variety! The downside to that is the author might have used just a bit too many adjectives and adverbs for the characters. It reminded me of teenage boys who wear too much Axe deodorant. A little goes a long way!

And on the topic of descriptions, some of them were, I think, unintentionally funny. Like the fact that evil Zelera's essence reeked of sulfur whenever she used her magic. Like...a fart? It made me giggle.

But as I went along, I got used to the somewhat outrageous and dramatic style of the story, and I settled in and was able to gobble it up in one evening. Zelera started to make an impression on me--there was just something hilarious about how overly dramatic she was all the time. She threw things at walls and tortured servants just because. And the best part, seriously made me laugh out loud sometimes, was the fact that she had trapped the former king and queen in a mirror, and she kind of monologued at them most of the time. It was delightfully loony.

Part of the reason this score is a 6 and not a 7 is because I found some grammatical errors. Also, she head-hopped. Head hopping is a big no-no for me! It's something that we authors all have to learn to control, and in this case, there was just too much of it. She went from one character to another without any real organization or form, and it made it difficult to follow. (I find THIS ARTICLE to be a good description of what head-hopping is and why not to do it.) I was not a fan of the cliches and modern word usage, either. Phrases like, "more than one way to skin a cat," along with words like, "adrenaline," and "rappel," just don't fit very well in Fantasy books.

That said, I found that along with Ms. Burns' excellent vocabulary, she had some truly lovely descriptions sprinkled into this work. For example, as two characters wait by the sea before the MC must leave her friend behind, Burns described it so: "The waves rolled in and out, taking time with them." I re-read that a few times because I liked it so much.

SO, in conclusion, I think this was a fun, quickly-paced book that is appropriate and indeed, FUN for young audiences. I felt it lacked a certain depth and nuance (again, lots of overly dramatic character actions and descriptions), and that could just be attributed to personal taste. But I would DEFINITELY recommend it to the younger set, and it would be a lively, engaging novel for parents and their children to read out loud to one another. This could very well inspire little dreamers to read more and delve deeper into the literary world.

About the Author

 Millie Burns lives in Orangevale, CA with her husband and three lovely daughters. Along with a severe infatuation of the written word, Millie enjoys a multitude of other activities. You might find her out climbing a rock, hiking the backwoods, or clinging to the end of a rope being dragged behind a boat.

You can find her at

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