Fairytale meets modern life in ‘The Carver’ by Jacob Devlin Book Review

I know what you’re thinking…another fairytale mashup? How can this be? With OUAT surely we don’t need any more of this? Well I’m a sucker for a good fairytale as my book reviews archive will indicate so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to read this. But how did it compare to the many other similar books on the market?

Goodreads Summary:

THE GIRL IN THE RED HOOD has been looking for her mother for six months, searching from the depths of New York’s subways to the heights of its skyscrapers . . .

THE PRINCE looks like he’s from another time entirely, or maybe he’s just too good at his job at Ye Old Renaissance Faire . . .

THE ACTRESS is lighting up Hollywood Boulevard with her spellbinding and strikingly convincing portrayal of a famous fairy. Her name may be big, but her secrets barely fit in one world . . .

Fifteen-year-old Crescenzo never would have believed his father’s carvings were anything more than “stupid toys.” All he knows is a boring life in an ordinary Virginia suburb, from which his mother and his best friend have been missing for years. When his father disappears next, all Crescenzo has left is his goofy neighbor, Pietro, who believes he’s really Peter Pan and that Crescenzo is the son of Pinocchio. What’s more: Pietro insists that they can find their loved ones by looking to the strange collection of wooden figurines Crescenzo’s father left behind.

With Pietro’s help, Crescenzo sets off on an adventure to unite the real life counterparts to his figurines. It’s enough of a shock that they’re actually real, but the night he meets the Girl in the Red Hood, dark truths burst from the past. Suddenly, Crescenzo is tangled in a nightmare where magic mirrors and evil queens rule, and where everyone he loves is running out of time.

Now that’s a summary and a half, and I won’t mind if you skimmed over it. Let me break it down. Pinocchio’s son is travelling with grown up Peter Pan to rescue people who have gone missing from the modern world who are also fairytale characters from fairytale land (or ‘the old world’ as it is referred to in the book). That’s about all the preamble you need to understand why I thought this book would be great.

For the most part this is a really strong story. We have likeable, well known characters presented in a non boring way, for instance I really liked the take on a grown up Peter Pan who is struggling with his maturity. There is an obvious villain from the start which I think is a key element in any fairytale and a wicked queen is always appreciated. I also enjoyed the way in which the story was told, you not only jump back and forth between the new world and the old world but you also go backwards and forwards in time. This makes for a very non-linear story which I think is what gives this book the real excitement you get from reading it.

Is this book just another OUAT but written in book form? Well, there are a large number of similarities, or instance, the inclusion of characters like Alice which in my book isn’t really a fairytale. However I think the fact that the story largely is told with Enzo as the main character means that there is a lot less romance than there is in OUAT. There is a little and it does smack a bit of insta-love but it’s a fairytale so I’m inclined to cut this a bit of slack.

If I had to make one criticism (and I do, it’s me after all) it would be that I think the dialogue was pretty weak in parts. There were a lot of speeches and conversations that felt really forced, kind of ‘I need to explain the plot but I can’t just tell the reader so I will have a character spell it out for them in an unrealistic conversation’ which is never done well in any book (or at least I haven’t ever seen it done well). But with a few tweaks to the dialogue I really do think this could have been excellent.

There are two more books in this series, the most recent of which was published in May, however I’m not in too much of a hurry to read them, partly because I just don’t have time in my schedule at the moment, but also this just isn’t the kind of book that left me crying out for more. It was perfectly satisfactory and I won’t say I didn’t like it, but I am sated, and there are a million more fairytale mashups to be read before I continue on in this universe.

My rating: 3/5 stars

By the way, I received a digital copy of this book for free from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

So what do you think? Is the fairytale mashup trend over and done with? Are there any really good books like this that you can recommend…I definitely don’t need to add to my TBR but still! Let me know in the comments below.

Can’t wait to hear from you


You might also like:

Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Graham Joyce

The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden

3 thoughts on “Fairytale meets modern life in ‘The Carver’ by Jacob Devlin Book Review

Add yours

  1. Ever since The Lunar Chronicles, I’ve been browsing for more fairytales and retellings. This sounds like an awesome addition to that list and I hadn’t even heard of it before now, so thank you! I’m already looking forward to reading it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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