Just finished reading the exciting fantasy novel Clara, by Suzanna J Linton. This was a book that I desperately wanted to read all in one sitting. Unfortunately, this was a busy week, the kids actually wanted to be fed and cared for (can you believe it??) and every time my reading time was interrupted I turned into a raging psycho. But what a fun page-turner!! You can find it on Book Club Reading List under the fantasy genre. Go check it out!
As a 10-year old, Clara is sold into slavery when her adoptive parents can no longer afford payments on their farm. Exposed to horrific things and drowning in daily fear, she becomes mute. Clara has always had visions of the future but mostly keeps them to herself. 15 years later and working in the kitchens of lord of her city, Clara has a vision of her master being murdered. When she stops this murder from happening, she unwittingly gets herself involved in a civil war between the king and a large group of rebels. Clara is repeatedly forced into situations where she must decide for herself what is right and wrong and how to save herself and the people she loves.
Probably the biggest strength in this story is the strength of it’s main character, Clara. This is a girl who endured unimaginable hardships, was beaten down again and again, yet remarkably still has compassion for those around her. Witnessing her transformation from afraid, to angry, to strong and confident is amazing. When someone she loves is killed, her anger outweighs her fear and she regains the ability to speak. When another person she loves is brutally murdered, she almost breaks from the force of her rage. She almost loses her soul to the darkness, but chooses to focus on the light.
“The anger shattered beneath the weight of the memory, slipping through her fingers like wet sand.” (Chapter 42)
I think the theme of fear throughout the novel is very profound and can be applied in our own lives. There are so many atrocities that occur every day in this world, but we can’t let our fear overcome our hope in a better future and love for others. Clara is a beautiful example of this.
“We will die. But I’d much rather die for my freedom than to live as a slave of fear, wondering what could have happened ‘if’.” (Jarrett, chapter 36)
The overall story and conflict were very strong. Clear and vivid descriptions, even in the gory parts (but not too gory!). I loved that I couldn’t predict the ending, even though I thought I had it pegged several times. And I was amazed by how much some of the deaths of significant characters moved me! Even characters who had only been part of the story a short while were mourned.
Not many significant weaknesses to this story, but I definitely had to struggle to keep up with all of the characters. There are A LOT of people to keep track of. I think it could have helped to add little descriptors as the characters come and go, particularly in the first half of the book while we’re still getting to know everyone. For example, referencing Jarrett as Captain Jarrett, or referring to Erin as the king’s preferred wizard or something. Just a clue to help the reader out.
Also I feel that there were some loose ends, questions that never got answered. Where did Clara come from? Why was she adopted as a child? I wanted to know more about her years as a slave and the experiences that drove her to becoming mute.
I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but that ending!! I like happily-ever-after, no loose ends kind of endings and this one definitely leaves room for interpretation. I like to believe that Clara runs off, travels for a bit with a certain guard, then falls madly in love and gets married. She’ll have 8 kids who will love her forever and she’ll be crazy happy the rest of her life, cuz she deserves it.
I love the theme of fear throughout the story. Very relevant to our world today. I wish more of Clara’s history had been fleshed out, but an overall great read for any lover of fantasy, action, or strong heroes! Lots of things to love about Clara!
[stars color=”aqua” number=”four” width=”220px”]
Find Clara on Book Club Reading List
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