A Wild and Unremarkable Thing by Jen Castleberry

by Justine Bergman

My Rating: 4

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE: https://www.facebook.com/JenCastleberryBooks/
SERIES: Standalone
PUBLISHED: December 7, 2017 by The Parliament House
PAGES: 238
GENRE: Fantasy, New Adult



Cayda has spent her entire life training to slay a Fire Scale. Now the time has come to leave her dragon-ravaged village behind, march into the Summer Alps, and reap the rewards of a Champion. But the road between poverty and prosperity is rife with beasts, betrayals, and baser temptations. Sensible Cayda soon discovers she’s not the only Champion with her eye on the prize, or the only one wearing a disguise.

A Wild and Unremarkable Thing pits girl against dragon in a stunning blend of Greek mythology and medieval lore. Don’t miss the thrilling novella that readers are calling poetic, enchanting, and a must-read for fans of fantasy!


ALSO REVIEWED AT: Fantasy Book Critic, Goodreads

“Small of stature, gentle of heart…You might write your own story, Cody. But men will write stories about you too.”

An unfortunate girl masking as a boy seeking to uphold her duty. An orphan favored by royalty seeking purpose. A debaucherous heir seeking companionship. A mysterious man seeking the gift of uncertainty. The Emerging is upon us, and it carries promises of glory and a brighter tomorrow for those skilled – and lucky – enough to survive until the rising dawn.

A Wild and Unremarkable Thing is an elegantly crafted novella penned by author Jen Castleberry, and is an incredible account of obligation and perseverance. With heightened focus on the prosperity of kindness and togetherness, this tale of desperation, longing, and defying the norm is one that took me by surprise in the best way possible. Despite its length, it’s notably developed and refined, and packs quite a punch. It’s been a while since a book has made me pause just to admire the beauty of a line spoken or an event unraveled, and I only wish I could experience this magical story for the first time all over again.

The writing is simply stunning. A gorgeous, poetic, and almost singsong prose makes it feel as though we’ve stumbled upon a tale being told, rather than a book being read. The use of third-person present tense allows readers to share in the festivities, completely immersing us in a mystical world full of beasts and shadow and hope. Charming morsels pepper the pages, and even seemingly insignificant instances, such as the gifting of a bar of soap, are done with such poise and heart.

She unwraps the soap – a slick, softly cut bar. She holds it in cupped palms beneath her chin like an injured bird. It smells of spruce and leather – like Penn.

My note for this passage: “I love this book”. A whimsical prologue primes the structure of the story well, and we’re soon introduced to short, bursting chapters of alternating points of view, which keep the pace moving quickly and allow us to experience events unfold from every angle. Diverse characters are surprisingly complex and easy to love (or hate). The sensual, blossoming romance is tastefully executed and utterly captivating.

She calls it violent and magnificent. Penn says that it’s perfect.

The concept of this story is rather straightforward – slay the beast, earn the winnings, and save the family – however, there is nothing rudimentary about how Castleberry composes this dazzling narrative. The worldbuilding is superb as settings, customs, and legends are colorfully expressed with attention to the most minute of details. You can smell the pine on the mountain breeze, and feel the excitement of the flowing crowds as the first Fire Scales take to star-strewn skies. I can’t even begin to express how handsomely this book is illustrated – just go read it.

As with others, I did feel the ending was a bit rushed, and would’ve like to spend more time in this beautiful place with these beautiful people. I can only hope this isn’t the last we see of this striking world Castleberry has created. A Wild and Unremarkable Thing, which I would characterize as a modern fairytale, is a book that I feel anyone with a love for tales of danger and tender romance will appreciate and savor. I’m excited and immensely looking forward to seeing where we’re taken next.

Note: A huge thank you to The Parliament House for a complementary copy of this book.

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1 comment

Celebrating Mabon | Whispers & Wonder September 23, 2019 - 9:09 am

[…] when dragons take to star-strewn skies and Champions fight for glory. I urge you to check out the full review, and give this novella a try – its poetic, singsong prose and beautiful characters make this […]

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