Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Shayla Witherwood: A Half-Faerie Tale by Tamra Torero

I received this book courtsey of the publisher from NetGalley.

If I’m honest, I couldn’t say what exactly it is that drew me to this book. It’s not a book that I’d heard of before, but then I’m always one to try anything that comes my way! I liked the sound of the blurb and that was enough in this case. I didn’t even go and read any other reviews to see if it might be for me. Whatever it was that drew me to the book, the prospect of it appealed to me.

Title: Shayla Witherwood: A Half-Faerie Tale
Author: Tamra Torero
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Target Audience: YA
Pages: 312
Chapters: 29
PoV: 1st person
Tense: Past tense

Story: A brief moment of disappointment washed over me as I approached Jace’s lifeless body. Here I was, about to kiss a boy on the lips for the very first time, and he was completely comatose—possibly paralyzed—and would never even know or remember the experience. This was not how I’d envisioned my first kiss—me invisible, him unconscious. 

Shayla Witherwood is not exactly normal. First of all, she’s spent her entire life being homeschooled, traveling in an RV around the country with her grandparents. And second, there’s the kind of inescapable fact that her mom was a genuine faerie. 

But now that she’s starting a real life in a regular high school, Shayla desperately needs to stay out of trouble in both worlds because even her faerie powers might not be enough to protect her from what’s coming. 

In her latest novel, Tamra Torero spins a magical tale filled with laugh-out-loud sarcasm, surprising twists, and spell-binding romance. Perfect for fairytale fans of all ages, this is one story you won’t want to miss!

(from Goodreads)

Thoughts and impressions: First of all, because I feel this is important, I’m going to point out that this story isn’t in any way bad. It’s very reminiscent of the stories I would read on FictionPress back in the day (the good ones, that is as anyone who’s been on FictionPress will know that it has a very wide range of quality). It’s enjoyable from start to finish. It’s a high school tale with a paranormal (half-)faerie twist. The only problem is that there is very little by way of danger.

It stays in the fairly safe zone of the cliché high school story: new girl (albeit with a half-faerie twist); geeky guy best friend; unpopular girl best friend; popular cheerleader who’s nasty to everyone and looks down on her ‘followers’; good looking jock who takes an interest in the new girl; posse who surrounds evil cheerleader and romantic interest jock.

For a long time, the focus is on Shayla fitting in at public school after having spent her whole life moving around the country with her grandparents in their mobile home. Obviously, public school is very different to the home-schooling that she’s used to. Not to mention that the faerie half of her can make things difficult – such as turning invisible or having to find a way to deal with her pointed ears when she’s required to tie her hair back in science class.

I really didn’t understand where the romantic interest came from. For Shayla, sure, he was good looking and she felt some form of attraction. For Jace, I am completely clueless. As of the very first day he shows interest in her and there’s no explanation as to why he would. What was with him inviting her to be part of the student council or committee or whatever it was? It gets mentioned when he invites her to be a part of it and then it gets dropped. They never have a meeting or anything like that. In that way, the romance didn’t really work for me. It was sweet, but it didn’t have a foundation. I might have overlooked this a few years ago but as it is, I found I wasn’t particularly interested in whether or not Shayla and Jace had a future together.

The other thing is that only one lesson is ever shown: first period science class. There are also plenty of scenes in the cafeteria, but we never see Shayla in any other class. Why not? Well, possibly to keep from boring the reader with passages where little happens, but it got to the point where it felt like science class was the only one that existed.

Eventually some sort of threat is introduced, but it doesn’t actually becoming very threatening until the very end of the book. I think I just wanted more of a sense of danger from the book. As it was, it was mostly about day to day life in high school. I’ve done that once and it’s not something I’m in a rush to get back to (though of course my lycée experience was very different to the typical American high school experience).

As for the ending itself, there were a lot of new, different ideas introduced very quickly that were never expanded on. Had they been introduced earlier on in the story, I might have cared about them, but as it was they only garnered some form of mild interest from me. The author had stuck me in a situation where (I think) she expected me to get caught up in the action but because all of this had had no lead up, I didn’t really manage to get beyond a mild interest.

Mister Digby was an interesting character – possibly the most interesting. He was one of the few where the author managed to leave me unsure of where I stood with him. I went through phases with him. At first I thought he was another faerie, then I thought he was some form of troll, and then I just couldn’t figure him out at all. The descriptions of him were good, though. I kept imagining something similar to Professor Flitwick form the Harry Potter books.

As I said at the start of the review, the book isn’t bad. It’s just slow and it should be taken as such. This is not the sort of story where the action keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s one to be enjoyed in a moment of calm. I think it’d appeal to younger female readers (maybe 12 or 13+) more than it will to older readers. There are loose ends and things that could have been improved but overall I enjoyed the story.

Style: I received an ARC of this book so some of the things I noticed that stuck out will likely have been fixed prior to publication. Two of the big ones, though, were that the term ‘faerie’ was sometimes spelt ‘fairie’ and their mobile home was sometimes called Brutus and other times Brutis. Other than these things, the style was actually polished so it surprised me that I found such mistakes.

Final verdict: I wish I’d read this book as a young teen. I think that had I read it then, I would have really loved it. As an adult, I felt it kept me at a distance and I missed having some form of threat hanging heavily over the characters. I enjoyed it but it didn’t really grab my attention – I didn’t feel compelled to go back to the book, I chose to do so. In other words, I was interested but I wasn’t addicted. 3 stars

Extra notes: I didn’t notice any bad language. No sex.


  1. Never heard of this either! I feel the same way about books now that I'm older. I look for a lot more substance when I would have been fine with it was I was younger.

  2. I am about half way through this one- and I think I agree with you!


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