Captain Guinevere by Clara Bennet
Published November 21st, 2016
I received a copy of Captain Guinevere from the author, Clara Bennet, in exchange for an honest review. You can check out Clara’s blog here.
Run! She has to run. Gwendolyn Patience has no intention of marrying a man she doesn’t love, but when her parents betroth her to the prince of Voyagea to unite their countries, her only option is to run. With the help of some new friends along the way, she commandeers a ship to sail away from her troubles, but instead she encounters the evil Ravenoth who has other plans for her. While trying to defeat the evil faerie, she finds the secret lies within herself. What she doesn’t expect is to fall in love with the very man she detests.
I rated Captain Guinevere 2/5 stars on Goodreads.
This review, like all of my reviews, is spoiler-free.
Before I begin this review, I’d like to give a little disclaimer. Yes, I did give this book 2/5 stars, which is a low rating for me to give. I’m just going to say it: I’m not a fan of medieval fantasy. While there were a few issues (which I’ll discuss later) that had to do with the fundamentals of the writing, my distaste for this book stems largely from my distaste for the subject matter itself. Medieval fantasy simply isn’t for me… and that’s okay. If you prefer something a little more fantastic, this may be the book for you. If you’re like me and want to keep it somewhat realistic, let’s chat about what I liked and didn’t like about Captain Guinevere.
When I received a copy of Captain Guinevere, I decided to go into it with an open mind. With that said, I wanted to give this book a real chance before counting it out simply because of its genre. I assessed the story for what it was and not what my preconceived notions might tempt me to believe. Captain Guinevere is a unique story about a complex protagonist, packed with adventure, with a little bit of romance as the cherry on top. Is there anything more we can ask from a book?
However, this novel had a lot of hasty beginnings and untidy endings. For example, in the first few pages, protagonist Gwendolyn finds a magical book and learns about the girl trapped between the pages. Gwen finds a way to release the girl by enlisting the help of a local witch, but I expected this storyline to go somewhere. The book served solely as a delivery truck for a supporting character and I felt like I’d been cheated out of what could have been an interesting storyline filled with well-placed world development.
There was world development, but there seemed to be just a touch too much. As someone who loves well-crafted settings, I’m shocked to even be writing this, but the world was overexposed. There was an undeniable medieval vibe, but we were also on a different planet… where everyone spoke languages from Earth. There was talk of people going to other planets in the book, but how did people from this antiquated culture travel from one celestial body to the next? The setting was anything but cohesive and left me with more questions than answers.
My other bone to pick regarding the novel’s exposition comes with Gwen’s decision to forego marrying Prince Ignatius, who she claimed to be too possessive. Choosing not to marry someone because of their tendency to be clingy is all fine and dandy, but we never got any evidence to back this claim up. If Ignatius was possessive, how? Why? This was prime character development material but instead of building a realistic, flawed human being, we were left with a faceless cutout labeled “Possessive Male Protagonist.”
One thing I did enjoy about the beginning was a singular page (or two–I can’t quite remember) when Bennet portrayed Gwen’s thought process when deciding to run away from her betrothed. Rather than typing out a string of “Gwen thought this, Gwen thought that,” Bennet italicized the whole page and simply followed Gwen’s train of thought. This artistic choice was spot-on for conveying the decisions Gwen had to make without describing them in a monotonous way.
As a character, I liked Gwen. She was headstrong and determined and passionate, but I felt that she changed personas far too often. With her family, she was a brooding teenager. When out shopping on her own, she acted like a curious child. When aboard the ship she and her crew commandeered, she had the ferocity of a swashbuckling pirate. I could hardly pin down who she was at her core. The character development pieces were all there, but they pointed in different directions.
I did enjoy Gwen’s character when she was with her love interest, Shiloh. He seemed to bring out the best in her, the softness she’d gained from years as a princess. In the end, I loved where the romance ended up. “Where does the romance end up?” you might be asking yourself. Well, you’ll just have to read the book and find out.
Overall, this debut novel was somewhere in between a miss and a hit; I neither loved nor hated this novel. As I said before, you may fall head-over-heels in love with this book if you’re a fantasy fan. For me, it just wasn’t in the cards.
Have you read Captain Guinevere? What did you think of the book?
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