Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Book Review: The Story Peddler

Hello, questers! I'm popping up in the middle of the week to chuck a book at you! Nicely, of course, because I am not a violent bookdragon (usually). But I just finished reading The Story Peddler, Lindsay A. Franklin's debut novel that released today,* and I. AM. IN. LOVE.

*Today being May 1st, but only just barely. I meant to post this in the morning!

Isn't it gorgeous?!
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Tanwen doesn’t just tell stories—she weaves them into crystallized sculptures that sell for more than a few bits. But the only way to escape the control of her cruel mentor and claw her way from poverty is to set her sights on something grander: becoming Royal Storyteller to the king.

During her final story peddling tour, a tale of treason spills from her hands, threatening the king himself. Tanwen goes from peddler to prey as the king’s guard hunts her down . . . and they’re not known for their mercy. As Tanwen flees for her life, she unearths long-buried secrets and discovers she’s not the only outlaw in the empire. There’s a rebel group of weavers . . . and they’re after her too.

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You can find Lindsay A. Franklin here, among other places:
Website // Facebook // Instagram

And find her book here:
Amazon // Goodreads

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not required to be positive.

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This was a beautiful tale--as cozy as Tannie's sleepy farming village, yet brimming with breathtaking wonder. Although I love fantasy with all my heart, I'm sometimes skeptical at the beginning of a new book in the genre . . . unsure about whether I'll click with the writing style and characters and plot. But I had nothing to worry about with this one! About two-thirds of the way through, I commented to my brother, "It's such a wonderful thing to enjoy a novel as much as you expect you will."

What I Loved


Tannie was such a refreshing protagonist! Plucky, wise, headstrong, creative, ambitious, funny, seldom quiet, and full of vim and vigor--so it didn't take me long at all to connect with her. Being a story peddler, she weaves light into crystallized symbols of the stories she tells, which is a deliciously fun element that ends up deepening every aspect of the book: character, plot, world, and theme! (Oh hi, that was just my writer nerd self showing up.)

A country orphan from Pembrone, Tannie dreams of leaving her tattered, humdrum life behind for a chance to see the world and become the king's Royal Storyteller. She has big hopes, a shrouded past, and the will to weave a future of her own making.

And did I mention that she's a storyteller? A creative, an artist? Did I mention that I love that?

The Cast

Tanwen was great, but so was the entire cast of characters! Seriously, every single one of them, even those who showed up for just a few pages, were well-drawn and compelling. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll keep the following thoughts on some of the major players brief.

  • Brac // He's such a sweet farm boy. I quite like him, even if I didn't always agree with him.
  • Mor // Okay, so I fell head over heels for him. He reminds me of a younger, slightly less rascally version of Once Upon a Time's Captain Hook!
  • A certain ragtag band of characters whom I will not name // The danger of a large group of characters is that only one or two manage to have any personality, but each individual was distinct, so kudos to Lindsay for that. Each had their own strengths, weaknesses, hopes, and sorrows. My heart hurts for them.
  • Braithe // As a princess in a corrupt court, she was a beacon of strength, poise, and mercy. I looked up to her, which takes something special.
  • The One in the Dark // I will say nothing!
  • Sir Dray // *barfs*
  • King Gareth // He managed to be more complex than the stereotypical "taxes, taxes, taxes!" kind of malevolent ruler, and I was very much not a fan of him. (Which is good.)

The World

Like I said before, the world of The Story Peddler is cozy and exciting at the same time! Tir is full of farms, villages, the seaside, a river, a forest, a bustling capital city, a palace . . . at first glance, it's your standard medieval fare. But a certain level of lively detail made the setting come to life. I wasn't sure at first about things like fluffhoppers (basically rabbits) and watta roots (essentially potatoes), but pretty soon I realized that the charm of such worldbuilding is that fantastical elements are instantly recognizable and require little to no explanation. So it was very easy to slip into this world and get comfortable.

But don't fall asleep on me! There was much political intrigue afoot to keep the plot moving and keep Tanwen on her toes. Opposing religions and cultures made for an intriguing backdrop to the story's events too.

Story Weaving

Again, I really don't want to spoil anything about anything, because it's best discovered for yourself, but suffice it to say I loved the concept of weaving stories. It was like seeing my own creative passion (writing) play out in a gorgeously visual way. And about halfway through, it all suddenly became ten times more awesome!

The Theme

The way this story embraced creativity and fanned the flames of imagination . . . wow, you guys. It reaffirmed and refreshed my storytelling heart--and I think it would do the same for anyone's creative passions, no matter what they are. This is a book that honors art in such a unique, eye-opening way, I can't say any more without blurting it all out! Just go read it!

What I Wasn't Sure I Loved at First . . .

The Beginning

It took me about 70 pages or so to get past my own built-in critic and really settle in, I'm sorry to admit. (It's a weird thing, the way I sometimes take a while to warm up to a story even if it's hitting all the right beats. So it's probably one of those "it's not you, it's me" issues!) I suppose the plot was a smidgen slower at the beginning, but in retrospect, I loved getting to experience Tanwen's life in Pembrone and get a handle on the world at large before things exploded into action. Because trust me, once I crested 100, maybe 150 pages, I refused to put the book down.

Some Vocabulary

Maybe I'm just used to melodramatic speeches and prose-y dialogue, but some of the phrases felt a bit modern. A very minor quibble, and one I very quickly forgot about. Besides, Tannie herself is a bit of a country bumpkin who has to concentrate to keep a polished vocabulary when selling stories. It actually works for her narrative voice to be casual. And speaking of vocabulary, I loved that there were some words she didn't recognize, and yet she never came across as stupid.

Flying Fluffhoppers, Why are You Still Here?

Go snatch up a copy for yourself so that we can flail about this book together! The Story Peddler is one riveting, enchanting book that I am sincerely proud to have on my shelf. Now I can't wait for next summer when the sequel releases!


  1. Wow. This book sounds pretty cool! I haven't looked into it that much, but I think I shall! *scampers off to stalk the author before making final descision*

    1. Yes, do look into it! I was pleasantly surprised with just how GOOD it was! <3

  2. ACK. Now I want to read this even MORE! It sounds like such a delight. Sometimes I just NEED a good cozy, classic fantasy type of book, ya know? It's like coming home. And this one sounds like it hits all the right chords. Plus the idea of a story weaver??? SO EPIC!!! (And the fact that there's a Hook-esque character sells me on it instantly. ;D)

    This will definitely be something I'll have to snag! Thanks for the lovely review!

    1. I know I've said this to you before, I but I think is the kind of fantasy you would LOVE. :D It *is* like coming home, and yet it gets super exciting towards the second half! (Oh my goodness, you will adore him. He's my latest book crush, not gonna lie. XD)

      Can't wait to hear your thoughts whenever you read it! Thanks, darling! <3

    2. Grrr, typos! I meant "but I think it is the type of fantasy you would love." XD

  3. I need to get this one, it sounds great. The cover is awesome too!

    1. I think you'd love it! And oh my goodness, that coverrrrr. I can't stop staring at it! <3

  4. One of my best friends was just fangirling over this (like crazy! =)), and now this review. . . Definitely intrigued! I'm a little wary of how they portray storytelling (being a storyteller too), but it sounds like it's done really well. I should look into this. . .

    1. Oh yay! I love sharing books with people. ^_^ The storytelling aspect was amazing. It's not a direct parallel to writing, per se, because Tanwen tells stories out loud, but the whole book pays great homage to creativity in all its forms. I found it really inspiring! <3

  5. I love it when a book has a storyteller/artist protagonist. I hope I can read The Story Peddler sometime soon!

    1. Me too! So relatable! I think you'd quite enjoy this one, especially the underlying themes. :D