Storyteller - Bonnie Dee My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...

I’m really disappointed in this new BD book. Why? Hmmm... it’s not about BD’s writing since I don’t find many faults in that area, if ever. For me, it was the hero, Rohann and his really annoying activities. And maybe the setting, a little. I totally loved the heroine, Lily, unless where Rohann were concerned and she’d be such a pushover about him! It got old and very frustrating after sometimes. The setting was something new to me. I’ve never read anything in the Pseudo-Victorian setting so I was going ‘WTF’ and ‘huh?’ in every a few pages. I sort of guessed it’s Steampunk (heard of it but never felt interested to read anything from that genre), but the blurb of the story fooled me a lot. I wasn’t, at all, expecting this.

Storyteller is a ‘gaslight’ fantasy, as per the end note by BD. It’s set in the fantasyland of Winbarrow, which is constantly in fight with its neighboring country of Scaraband. Lily, an illegitimate child and orphan, is the Princess’s companion. Princess Carnalia and she have been fast friends from a very young age. Whereas Princess Carnalia is dumb and beautiful, even though somewhat good-natured, Lily is the plain companion who is smart and prim and proper. Her job is to keep the princess in track and look after her. Wipe her arse more likely, because I was really annoyed by Carnalia for a long time. No man ever gave Lily much attention as she’s always with Carnalia and everyone’s vying for hers. She’s flighty and flirty, never thinks about consequences of her actions. Very headstrong and impulsive. So, yes, Lily had the worse task in the world! But, sadly, Lily had sisterly affections for Carnalia and she, in her own way, returned it.

When King Wendell is out on a discussion with the king of Scaraband, a traveling storyteller by the name of Kier Rohann comes to visit the palace. Rohann is a lady’s man no doubt, with his fair good looks and enigmatic blue eyes. Lily falls hard upon her first look at Rohann. But Rohann didn’t spare much of a glance at her, his only thought to flirt (and if possible to seduce) Carnalia. Rohann likes women fun and loose, no strings attached sex in whichever town he is in. So the prim, proper and plain companion gets the shrug off. Taking chance of the king’s absence and Carnalia’s impulsive nature, Rohann tries to have fun. Carnalia would send Lily to him with missives to meet with her. They’d kiss and so on. But Rohann, even the incorrigible rouge as he was, knew that he can’t actually seduce the Princess without some payback. Lily was worried about Carnalia’s behavior and quite hurt by her own reactions towards Rohann’s total ignorance of her.

Lily almost had no self-esteem to speak of, being told all her life that she’s ‘too brown’ to become any sort of beauty, and so, in her mind, she knew she can never catch the eyes of a vivacious man like Rohann. But it still hurt to see him apparently so engrossed in the princess. Lily, still, accompanies Carnalia for a tryst with Rohann, which is nothing more than kissing and fondling. Seeing him kissing her jolts Lily bad. She’s again into her woe-is-on-me mode but can’t help wanting that kiss either. She tries her best to warn Rohann off of Carnalia afterwards, in answer to which Rohann bestows one of his mocking smile. But somehow, she begins to get under his skin with what he dubbed as prickly demeanor. Then a memory of his past came back haunting and he felt tired and drained out by it. Rohann soon decides he can’t be here anymore.

Carnalia’s stupidity leads to a big trouble soon enough. The king returns with the news that to make a peace treaty with Scaraband, he will marry Carnalia off to the old King Pieter. Carnalia can’t take it, gets drunk and risks everything by going to Rohann’s room at night. Lily thought she was in her room and went back to change her dress. While Rohann understood that Carnalia was drunk and was trying to get her to go back to her room, Lily comes rushing in, clad in dressing gown, to ‘save’ Carnalia. Me? *eyeroll* The king is upon them soon enough and to save Carnalia’s stupid arse, both Lily and Rohann concoct something about them being lovers and Lily coming for a tryst with Rohann, which Carnalia was trying to save Lily from etc. blah-blah. King Wendell knew it was a lie but he still kicks both Lily and Rohann out of the palace that very night.

Now, honestly, Rohann’s behavior towards Lily, I found pretty distasteful. He was forever telling himself how she’s not his type, how she’s so bloody plain and prim and proper and he can’t be entangled with someone like her, that I begin to lose my respect of him soon enough. Trust me, it went on until the last few chapters. I wanted to shake Lily a bit and tell her to stop fantasizing over Rohann because he really wasn’t worth it. We get to learn some of Rohann’s background though and why he became what he is today. He was tricked off his lands and income by the mayor of the town he was living in and betrayed by his lover, whom he was planning to marry at that time. She married a lord, Grayson and later died in childbirth. Rohann was forced to go off to a war with Scaraband, the hell on Earth for him. He survived but with bitter memories. He came back to find everything he held dear, gone. He had no other option but to choose the path of becoming an itinerant storyteller, learning tricks and skills of storytelling. He is a flippin’ good actor too, always holding his audiences in thrall. Lily was very impressed by his acting skills.

On the way, Rohann decides he’d help Lily find job in another town and will accompany her there. They even had to act as a married couple along the way to find lodging in some respectable house. Lily only sighed over the fact that how her world has tumbled down and how she’d never be Mrs. Rohann ever in her life. Every time she thought about being Rohann’s wife, I wanted to scream!! I mean he was trying his best to get rid of you, why then, Lily-bird? You’re much more lovable than that and deserving, too! One day, as they were still on their way to the town where they’d part ways, Lily mentions about Grayson and his son. Yes, Grayson was the man from his past that Rohann saw present in the Palace. He’s the one Rohann’s fiancée married. Grayson was also trying to get people to believe and invest into something of a great invention that he was building. Rohann thought all those were bullsh*t. Now, hearing from Lily that he has a young son, Rohann suddenly decides he needs to check out this boy. What if he is his?

You know what Lily did? When Rohann asks Lily to leave alone, so that he can go the other direction, to Grayson’s estate, Lily thinks she needs to save Rohann from his impulses. She felt that he would do something moronic (can’t argue with that though), so she will have to ‘save’ him. And so, even after his abrupt dismissal of her, Lily decides to tag along with Rohann.

I was like..................WTF WOMAN!!????!!

*facepalm* Anyone?

Rohann is so happy to have Lily now that she would be helping him. Note that it’s because she’s HELPING HIM WITH HIS STUPID ADVENTURE TO FIND HIS ILLEGITIMATE SON!!! As if now... NOW, she has some value to him. WTF??????!!!!!!!!!!!

Told ya I was losing my respect and interest in him gradually.

So, they made plans, acting plans mind you, to become two house tutors, a married couple. Lily is now a cool actress herself and doing great with Rohann. Rohann cuts his long fair hair and both dresses appropriately to look more like respectable tutors. She had some money from what the King gave her and has been helping Rohann so far with that. This was no exception. Yep, she was! Rohann had no money to speak of.

As they set their plan in motion, I was just shaking my head. I was pretty sure I would find the lame plot of the boy being Rohann’s. I was very very sure and thought I would DNF this book if it is. I just didn’t care to be burdened with this baggage at all. I don’t generally dislike kids in a book but I felt nothing for Rohann and so, it was painful for me when I thought of Lily. I thought how undeserving it was for her to be faced with such crap, even though Lily was perfectly ok with this whole mess and sympathized with Rohann. Stupid woman!!



So, they travel to Grayson’s estate and soon sets their acting skills in motion as well. Rohann was NOW very proud of Lily, thinking her a great actress. By this time, I was straying. I felt my interest slipping away. I couldn’t even believe that I was reading a BD book...

Thankfully, the boy turns out be too small for Rohann’s. He’s oddly relieved, knowing he couldn’t’ve taken care of a little boy, the way his life was now. It brought back my interest in the story somewhat, though Rohann doesn’t change much. As they were trying to take their leave, Grayson abruptly returns and catches them. He takes both of them as hostages. Rohann won’t be of much help but Grayson tries to take Lily into his confidence, recognizing her. Lily is horrified by the plot Grayson has hatched with king Pieter. In a few days, Pieter would be in Winbarrow to marry Carnalia and take over the kingdom by a coup, in which Grayson will be helping him. Already, he has already acquired this machine to control the weather (by forcing the inventor mind you). Lily understands that she’s facing a maniac but the claims he made about controlling weather just might be true. They find a friend here, someone Rohann knew from the past. This woman, Susan, was a friend to his dead fiancée. With her help, both are able to escape. Susane tags along because she wanted to run from this crazy place and start over. On their way, Susan drops some bombs about Rohann’s fiancée, which proved that she betrayed him in every way. She was ambitious, had no intensions of marrying Rohann and planned on already to marry Grayson. Rohann, being the young fool, never listened to Susan when she tried to warn him before.

Before long, Grayson’s men hunt them down flying on a heliocraft. Susan gets killed. I felt really bad for her. Rohann and Lily came very close to losing their lives but somehow survive with injuries. It was some adventure for them! While fleeing, they find this abandoned crofter’s hut and decide to stay there for sometimes to recuperate. Then, OMG, I couldn’t believe when they suddenly decide to have sex. It was just, so unexpected and! I still didn’t care for Rohann, couldn’t believe Lily gave in just like that and that he took advantage of her (it wasn’t certainly out of love!). Grr!! The next day, he goes all cold on her again, like nothing ever happened between them, leaving Lily hurt and confused.

Lily wants to travel back to the Palace and report about this treachery by Grayson immediately. But Rohann has no intentions of accompanying her there. He would leave her close by and part ways. He says as much to her when they were traveling in a hog farmer’s cart for easier journey. Lily is hurt... just hurt and thinks about the things she did so far for him and what he’s giving her in return. Finally, she sees that it’s better to leave a man who doesn’t feel anything for her. Well, it wasn’t entirely true. Rohann already began to feel something for her but he wasn’t man enough to work on it. Not then at least. By now, I was beginning to feel the boredom and the impatience for this over soon. I mean, how long can you witness such callousness? I wanted Rohann to jump off the nearest cliff and save both Lily and me from this misery. It was beginning to grate on my nerves.

Yes, in the end, he returns when Lily is in danger as king Pieter takes over the palace. The climax was quite big and action packed. I did like the epilogue but that obviously wasn’t enough for me. I didn’t care for Rohann and genuinely didn’t get Lily’s vehement adoration for him.

They say ‘love is blind’. That maybe... Well, meh! 3 stars.

Ms. Dee, I need more books like A Hearing Heart, Captive Bride or Bone Deep. Pretty please?