Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sword Sisters: A Red Reaper Novel - Review by S.E. and E.E.

Sword Sisters: A Red Reaper NovelSword Sisters: A Red Reaper Novel by Tara Cardinal
Overall rating: 4 of 5
(Avg. of S.E.L's rating: 3 of 5 stars  ... E.E.L's daughter's Rating 5 of 5)

YA Adventure: 'Coming of Age' of a 'Chick-in-Chainmail' 

Sword Sisters is a tale of Aella, a snarky, special teenager who starts exploring her independence. She may not wear chain mail, but her attitude fits that of the stereotypical chick-in-chainmail (Aella resembles author Tara Cardinal in appearance, which happens to reflect that of red-haired warriors of the Sword & Sorcery genre: Agnes de Chastillon, Red Sonja, and Jirel of Joiry). Tara Cardinal is the key force behind a “Red Reaper” franchise, this novel Sword Sisters: A Red Reaper Novel serves a prequel to the Legend of the Red Reaper (video trailer link) movie which she directed, wrote, and acted as the major star. The movie has opened in select markets a month after the book was released (movie available via many streaming and online retailers April 2014.).
Tara Cardinal is motivated to expand the Sword & Sorcery audience by making it more appealing for younger females, and she is succeeding. 

This book was co-authored by Alex Bledsoe, who contributed to another Rogue Blades Entertainment work: Writing Fantasy Heroes. Rogue Blades Entertainment’s library (i.e., Rage of the Behemoth, and Return of the Sword) had focused on anthologies tailored for an adult audience, so this novel presents a slight departure into a new market (Young Adult, not-anthology). Having read the aforementioned RBE works, I would not recommend this to their historic audience, unless they happened to also identify with & enjoy YA fare.

This review combines 2 perspectives: (1) an adult male, dark fantasy reader (me), and (2) a young adult fantasy reader (my teenage daughter).

Old Man Perspective: Other than featuring a belligerent, young heroine, this book sticks to many of the tropes & clich├ęs of any coming-of-age fantasy novel. Conflict is consistently deflated with adolescent humor, juvenile idioms, or Aella's giggles. There are hints of mature content that are never developed: the basis of Aella's powers stems from demons raping human females, however, explicit sex or sexual violence never presents itself. The prose could be considered `mature,' since copious cursing & cussing peppers the text (as a teenager learning the art of "adult" language would speak).

Young Adult Perspective: Since I was not the target audience, my teenage daughter was enlisted. She enjoyed it better. Her thoughts: "Aella, last of the Reapers (half-human and half-demon), is a witty, humorous, well-rounded character whom you can't help but love. Told from the first-person point of view, you really get to see Aella's character and motivation. Being a teenager myself, I defiantly enjoyed this. Plan on having time to sit down and read the whole book in one sitting, because once you pick it up it's hard to put down. I hope there's more to read in the future :)"

Sword Sisters Book cover  Legend of the Red Reaper movie poster

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