Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Review: Toads and Diamonds

Toads and DiamondsTitle: Toads and Diamonds
Author: Heather Tomlinson
Genre: Fantasty
Release Date: March 30, 2010

A Quick Introduction: When Diribani went to the community's well, she does not expect the blessing from a goddess. Though the gems and flowers that fall from her lips whenever she speaks seem like a blessing to her recently impoverished family, they have unexpected consequences. As do the toads and snakes that manifest whenever her brusque stepsister, Tani speaks. The girls struggle to understand their respective gifts, with more than just their lives at stake.

Out of Ten: 7/10

Review at a Glance: An enjoyable fairy talk retelling in a setting highly reminiscent of historic India.

Review: This is a fairy tale retelling, set in a world heavily inspired by historic India. The story itself reads like a fairy tale, by which I mean that it is more story-driven than driven by characters.

The story is told in third person limited, from the points of view of both Diribani and Tani, as they go on individual and subtly parallel journeys. While I didn't really connect to either of the girls, I still found myself enjoying their stories. They're both, in their way, good people with character flaws, and they just want to figure out what to do with their strange new abilities. Diribani was gentler than Tani, who is more accustomed to hard work, both are trying to figure out how to do what is right. A weakness was that I didn't connect to the characters, or, for the most part, really believe the connections between the characters.

The world itself is fairly firmly constructed. Its based on Mughal Empire India, which was a flourishing of the arts from 1526-1858. Drawing on that culture, the world is built up, with two distinct religions (neither of which exist in reality, though they have recognisable elements). The world was pretty simple, but it worked when built on the background of a real, recognisable past civilization.

The writing is in the spirit of folktales and fairy stories. The writing is simple, but paints a picture of the setting and the plot. The plot itself is juggled between the two girls, on parallel journeys of self discovery in two very different places. There was more substance to Tani's story than Diribani's, and I did find myself more invested in her story that Diribani's. The plots are both straight forward and simple.

Overall, this was an enjoyable little story, a simple and light fantasy about sisters and finding a purpose for even things that would appear as curse.

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