In this edition of the Figment Review, Figment user Samantha Bagood reviews “Caught in Crystal,” by Patricia C. Wrede, a fantasy adventure with new perspective.
In middle school, I read Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles. They are fantastic, and since I enjoyed reading those four books, I expected to like Caught in Crystal as well. And I did! But I’m not sure I can recommend it for young adult readers because, well, I’m not sure if it is for young adults.
The story begins with Kayl, a simple innkeeper who long ago left her position as the best fighter and strategist of the Sisterhood of Stars (a coven of witches) after a secret mission went horribly wrong. She’s enjoying her modest and happy life until a sorceress walks in, claiming the Sisterhood needs her help and setting off a chain of events that leads Kayl on an adventure she thought she’d left behind forever.
Overall, this sounds like—and is!—an interesting action-adventure story set in a fantasy world rich with history and complicated by race and magical prejudice. But the main character Kayl isn’t the teenage protagonist we’d expect from a YA novel: she’s a widow, and a single mother of two children.
I have no objection to Kayl as the heroine, or an adult book in general, and I think this one is worth a read. There are lots of adult books that crossover to the young adult market and vice versa. An adventure marked by real concerns like childrearing makes for a refreshing read. Most of the main characters are older and have a more active role.
Young significant characters do exist, however. Kayl’s children, for example, play important roles, especially towards the end. Kayl’s flashbacks to her young adult age also add significant intrigue to the story. For those who like romance, a mature love develops between two characters (though I didn’t personally find it convincing).
The complex world of Lyra drew me in, and I admire Kayl’s sensibility. My favorite parts of the book are the flashbacks, as they add a dimension to Kayl that’s relatable for teens. But the ending left me unsatisfied, and I ultimately would have preferred to read the story depicted in the flashbacks.
Samantha Bagood is a freelance writer and designer and a student at Appalachian State University. She is currently writing her first novel.