A Tale of Beauty and Madness, book 3
Lili St. Crow
Razor Bill, an imprint of Penguin Group, 2015
In this final book of the Tales of Beauty and Madness series, Kin is a different take on Little Red Riding Hood. It seems Ruby and her kin are wolves, or rather, werewolves – at least we are meant to think they are – the author never really comes out and says it – she just describes it. They are evolved werewolves, running in true form only once a month under the full moon and in the safety of The Park, a walled area that keeps them from running through the city and keeps the mere-humans and others safe. Their true form is a closely guarded secret – not even Ruby’s best friends know. Everyone lives in relative harmony until one of their kin is murdered. As the murders continue, who will be there to rescue Ruby?
• Ruby de Varre, seventeen, one of the few female rootkin (not branchkin – it makes a difference, although it’s not clear (to me) why) born since the Reeve (after the Reeve, fewer and fewer females have been born), has always been Wild but now she is being forced by her grandmother to settle down, marry and have cubs to strengthen the Clan
• Edalie “Gran” de Varre, Clanmother, Ruby’s grandmother, may or may not be Ruby’s biological grandmother, but certainly the one who raised her; Gran is very powerful, few would ever cross her, even a Family member; even threatens to “collar” Ruby if she doesn’t settle down
• Conrad Tiercey, from the Grimtree clan overWaste, rootkin and sent to Woodsdowne to meet and possibly become betrothed to Ruby; he has a dark secret that Ruby discovers and may even endanger her
• Cami Vultisino, best friends and school mate, betrothed to Nico Vultisino, the Head of one of the Seven Families in New Haven that run things and, oh by the way, are vampires (not explicitly labeled as such in the book but a careful reader figures it out early on!)
• Ellie Sinder, best friend and school mate, engaged to Avery , both charmers with magic pouring from their finger tips
• Thorne & Hunter, cousins to Ruby (but not too close) who we first meet in Nameless, they have grown up with Ruby and are constantly trying to outdo each other in a bid for Ruby’s attentions
In Kin, we are introduced to the Woodsdowne area of New Haven given a few more pieces to the puzzle of the inhabitants that live and work there. We meet oncles (uncles) and tantes (aunts) of the clan and understand a bit more of why Ruby was so Wild in the other books in the series.
I enjoyed the book, though not as much as my favorite, Nameless, and besides the obvious themes of skewed fairy tales, a future world deftly created by the author and the bond between friends, in all three books there is a theme of ‘girl power’ , rescue, and above all, teen angst. In each book, each girl pushes her best friends away when she goes through something awful, feeling alone in the world and at fault for everything that goes wrong in their lives. My mom tells me it has been so long since she was a teen girl she can’t remember feeling like that, but she is sure she did – you know, hormones and everything. It does get a bit annoying at times to here the girls blame themselves for everything and to shut themselves away, but that is a viewpoint of an 11 year old cat (that’s approximately 90 to you humans). I am quite certain the angst runs true to the feelings of teen-aged girls.
The thing I loved and hated the most about this book is how Ruby allows herself to enter into a physically and emotionally abusive relationship, hides it and even defends her attacker. She constantly thinks – ‘is this the way having a boyfriend is supposed to be?’. I blame her Gran for that – it is also a lesson for parents of preteen and teen girls to take note – tell the girls that if a boy truly cares for them he will respect their wishes, their body, their space, their person. Tell her she doesn’t have to put up with the crap delivered by boys who want them all for themselves. My mom told me about a young girl who used to be in a youth group she once lead – it was the priest’s daughter, so sweet, so nice, but she ended up being abused by her boyfriend because as much as her parents loved and adored her, they never taught her to love and respect herself and much as she loved and respected her faith and people.
Also, I felt the ending of the book was too abrupt. I needed more closure since this is the last book of the series. Sometimes stories are just wrapped up a little too neatly, and this is one of those. But nonetheless, I loved the book and the series!!
Rating: 4 out of 5 paws for Kin and 5 out of 5 paws for the series because I love the world Ms St. Crow created and while part of me would like another book or two in the series, I also would be afraid that she might grow the characters into a place I don’t like. So I guess I’m saying that the series is perfect.
Here’s some artwork I found; click on the image for the link: