Monday, April 21, 2014

ARC Book Review: Feather Bound by Sarah Raughley

Title: Feather Bound
Author: Sarah Raughley
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Rating: 1/5

Cover Impressions: 
Who is this cover artist and where can I buy this print?  This is just stunning.  I love the colors, the feathers and the bird imagery.  I can't wait to see this one in hardcover. 

The Gist:
Becoming a Swan means being under constant threat from someone trying to control you.  Literally.  If they hold your feathers (coat?), they control your every move.  Having newly discovered that she is a Swan, Deanna wants nothing more than to pretend nothing has changed.  But, with the recent return from the dead of her wealthy friend, Hyde, Deanna is now in the perfect position to be blackmailed.  Ruin Hyde and keep her secret, or reveal her secret and risk losing everything. 

Oh Feather Bound.  Dear, dear, Feather Bound.  You had so much potential.  A kick ass cover, a unique premise, connections to a haunting fairy tale but you just couldn't pull it together could you?  Forgot all about the world building didn't you?  Got stuck on a lame main character and a lackluster romantic entanglement didn't you?  Disappointed all the people who signed on because of an incredible cover and the promise of a story we hadn't heard a thousand times didn't you? Yes, Feather Bounds, yes you did.

Where to start with this book?  Well, the whole swan thing felt unnecessary and I feel like the plot would have been exactly the same if it had revolved around blackmail for some other, more realistic, reason.  It was very difficult to reconcile the modern setting with the age old fairy tale.  They were not well incorporated and we got no explanation for how this whole thing works.  Have swans always existed?  Were they recently discovered and thus became a hot commodity for human trafficking?  Do people have power over a swan if they get a hold of just one feather or do they need the entire "coat"?  How easy is it for these coats to be removed if regular (non-surgical) humans can take them by force?  Why is there such a stigma attached to being a swan?  How often do they sprout wings?  Do they have to?  I could ask questions for days but the bottom line is, without some worldbuilding to explain how these magical creatures came to be and what rules govern them, most readers will lose the plot entirely and begin to skim, as I did at about the halfway mark.

The entire plot is built around the idea of stealing a Swan's feathers and thereby controlling his or her will.  The entire concept is really disturbing, as is the way that this seems to have permeated the darker sectors of this world.  Swans have become the ultimate sexual plaything for bored, rich, white men who have tired of their regular perversions.  This leads to some downright stomach turning scenes in which Swans are sexually exploited by the people who have either stolen or paid for this type of total control.  By the time the first "Bad Guy" is revealed in a seedy bar that allows for the drugging and kidnapping of young women, I was pretty much done.  There couldn't possibly be enough comeuppance in store for this person to satisfy my bloodlust following that scene.

Even the romantic elements within Feather Bound are at best, lackluster and at worst, creepy.  The first time Hyde sees Dee after he returns from the dead, she begins to walk away and he grabs her arm.  She has no idea who he is and he grabs her without permission.  This is not cool.  There continues to be some strange type of relationship where she rejects him and he forces his attention on her.  Hyde showers her with gifts but doesn't seem to show any real emotional connection.  He doesn't now anything about her and shows very little interest in finding out.  Instead, he makes meaningless, generic gestures that are supposed to work on any woman rather than finding out what might actually make Dee happy.  Which, doesn't surprise me as she is a pretty one sided character who doesn't seem to have any interests of her own.  Hyde also reeks of condescension.  Take for example this exchange:

I took the glass, but set it down.  "Sorry, I don't drink." 
"For religious reasons?"
"For legal reasons.  I'm underage." A pause.  "You are too."
Hyde laughed. "And you are adorable." He sipped.

UGH! Are you kidding me.  "Oh Dee, you are so cute with your plebeian values like obeying the law. Us rich folks have no need of such childish ideals." (my words, not the books, though they would fit pretty well.)    

In the end, things are wrapped up in a pretty bow as Dee manages to break into a mansion (that apparently has no security system and only one lock) and the villains engage in a dialogue that allows each of them to confess everything and, as a bonus, includes a skeevy sex scene that just put the cherry on this disturbing sundae. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

16 and up
Sex: Kissing, Sex (disturbing for who it involves, not the graphic nature)
Violence: Rape, Fighting, Drugging, Kidnapping, Human Trafficking,
Inappropriate Language: Shit, Fuck, Bitch, Whore, Bastard, Tit, Pissed, Slut
Substance Use/Abuse:


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