The House of the Four Winds (One Dozen Daughters #1)
by Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Princess Clarice is the eldest of 13 royal children – 12 girls and one boy. Her parents, though loving, are also too poor to dowry 12 daughters and leave their son something to rule the kingdom with. So it’s decided that on each girl’s 18th birthday, she will set out into the world to make her own fortune. Clarice is thrilled with the idea, and hatches a plan to see the world and make a name for herself as a swords-woman. Or swordsman, as she finds it easier to go about on her own disguised as a boy. Spontaneously booking passage to the New World, Clarice (now Clarence) finds herself embroiled in ship politics, between a cruel captain with secrets, a mutinous crew, and the honorable ship’s navigator who has become a good friend. When things come to a head, she must choose sides. And when the ship finds itself in a pirate haven cloaked by magic and ruled by a sorceress, keeping up the charade while finding a way to get out of the situation alive tests her limits, and her heart.
This was a fun book. It’s a quick read with the classic adventures-on-the-high-seas setup. The world is ours, yet not ours – the names of places are different, and magic is a reality. Clarice is a spunky yet no-nonsense character. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty if work needs done, and she has a certain charm (although if that’s supposed to be her on the cover, I’m not sure how she passed as a man for one second, let alone most of the book). Her navigator friend turned (of course) romantic interest, Dominick, is also an interesting character. He’s got a history and a good moral compass, and I wish we had gotten a look at his thoughts as he and ‘Clarence’ became closer. When the reveal comes (as you know is has to, I don’t think this is a spoiler), I was surprised at how he handled it. In a good way. I think in general one of the things I liked best about this book is that even though there’re adventures and action and Things Happening, there’s not a lot of drama in the way of unnecessary tension and misunderstandings. Those get old quick, and it was refreshing to read a YA book that wasn’t rife with them.
I do think the plot was a bit iffy in places, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment. I also wish the end had extended for a bit so we see the aftermath, but maybe that will be touched on or hinted at in the next book(s). Judging from the name of the series, I’m guessing there are at least 11 more books to come, one for each girl. I’m ok with that. The authors have already set up the fact that each sister has a distinct personality, so their adventures are bound to be different enough to keep things interesting. I plan on checking out book #2 whenever it lands. If you’re in the mood for something lighthearted and entertaining, pick this one up.