Sunday, 1 May 2011

Ondine: The Autumn Palace by Ebony McKenna

February 2011, Egmont
304 pages, Paperback
Review copy 

Young adult, fantasy 

conspiracy, assassination attempts, food tasting, poison, political intrigue, teen romance, lots of humour, magic, school life, being away from home, laundry

Summary from Egmont 

One boy, one girl, one plot to be foiled!
Hamish the gorgeous man (and part-time ferret) has a new job with the Duke as a spy in his Autumn Palace. So Ondine goes with him. She imagines a hugely romantic escapade together that involves lots of kissing.
What she hadn't imagined was having to do endless laundry, go to school and keep Hamish the man a secret. All the while trying to find out who is plotting to kill the Duke.
And if that weren't bad enough, it seems that Hamish is more interested in getting the Duke's attention than hers. Plus he's always in ferret form.
Things can't go on like this! Can Ondine foil the would-be assassin, save the Duke and get her man back in gorgeous human form?
It’s going to take a little bit of magic, a lot of stolen kisses and some ferreting around…

Nayuleska's thoughts
Knowing Ondine from her first adventure, I dove straight into this one. I like the cover as much as the first - look at the cute shoes Ondine has! As for the dress *happy sigh*. It's gorgeous! 

Ondine embarks on a huge adventure: she leaves home with Shambles & her aunt, going off to live with the Duke. Her family were not impressed. Her mother constantly tried to get her home on the few times that Ondine could afford to use the phone, but Ondine is staying put. Even when those amongst the Duke's household plot to remove her, she doesn't budge. She's determined to be wherever Shambles is. 

I admit that I liked this book a smidgeon less than the first one. Mostly because there is greater emphasis on Ondine and Shambles' relationship (I prefer Shambles to Hamish!) This is a personal preference, though, and has nothing to do with how the story is written. Sneaking kisses, and teen angst when there's conflict between the pair isn't high on my list of enjoyable things. However, I like this part of the story because Ondine does learn huge lessons about the world, important ones. Nothing is ever 100% hunky dory. She can't do what she likes all the time in life. 

It's during this time when she says things she later regrets that she is able to unravel more of the mystery in the Duke's house. That is necessary because there is heaps of secrets flying around, and the guilty party is brilliant at covering up their tracks. Even with Ondine, Shambles and her aunt on the case answers don't come quickly. Ondine and Shambles' investigation leads to making some of the situations worse. Worse includes all the extra laundry when the household gets sick, for Ondine's job involves helping with the laundry. She does progress to another job, but that has its own problems and Ondine struggles with it. 

I liked the internal workings of the Duke's household, how his staff interacted with Ondine, how they felt about each other and the duke. Although Ondine left her home behind, there are elements of solidarity and friendship to be found among her new companions. Obviously she still has her aunt - who she sees more as a hindrance when she tries to curb Ondine & Shambles's relationship - and she has Shambles. Sort of. She barely gets to see him, which makes her pine for him. (I wanted her to get a grip and get on with the job in hand, but it's through her overwrought emotions that lead to finding answer). There's a fair amount of humour, possibly a smidgeon less than the first book just because of the content matter pursued, but it's very much enjoyable. 

Final conclusion 
Ondine learns the life lesson that relationships need work and trust, and the world can be a dangerous place - especially when people are sick and add to the mound of laundry. 

Be sure to check out information about Ondine as well as the author on Ebony's website. 

Suggested reads

Ondine by Ebony McKenna - it's obvious why you should be reading book one! 

Knife by R J Anderson, This involves fairies living in their own world, but includes a lot of humour, emotions and transformations. 

Eyes like Stars by Lisa Mantchev, more fairies, magic laughter and mayhem (and a business threatened) 

I, Coriander by Sally Gardner, magic mixing with reality, focuses on family life and with lots of humour. 

Competition - you can win a copy of Ondine: The Autumn Palace right here! International, closes 14th May 


Diana said...

Great post! Book sounds very interesting.

Nayuleska said...

Thank you Diana - make sure you enter the competition if you'd like to win a copy.