Friday, July 26, 2013

4 Heart Review: The Weeping Empress by Sadie S. Forsythe

The Weeping Empress
Sadie S. Forsythe

Page Count: 242

Release Date: 1 December, 2011 (first edition)
Publisher: Lulu (self-published)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Sadie!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Chiyo Alglaeca was happy in her life.

That is, until it was all taken away. Forced into notoriety, stalked by a mysterious cult, hunted by the emperor, and facing betrayal at every turn she clings to the only safety she can find: two enigmatic men and the sharp bringer of death, Salvation. The Weeping Empress explores the devastating effects of loss, the hunt for redemption, and the price of destiny. It questions the true meaning of evil and asks: What monster is not also an innocent?
Chiyo tossed, turned, and thrashed about both in reality and in the murky surrealism of her dreamscape. All around her people were dying. They were calling out to her, begging for a savior who wouldn't come. There was nothing she could do ... She ran, stumbled, picked herself up, and threw herself forward again, but she was never able to get away. She was never able to find the way out. She was never able to escape. She was trapped.

I really wanted to like this book because of the grippingly vague synopsis, but unfortunately the grippingly vague synopsis is exactly why I couldn't like it. I went into reading The Weeping Empress knowing neither the context nor the setting. Eventually Chiyo's sudden displacement is explained by a bit of spiritual power, a bit of time travel, but because it isn't stated explicitly, overall this book was very confusing and hard to keep up with.

The exodus of the goddess Kali wreaks havoc upon dynasty-era Japan, which is the time period to when Chiyo one day wakes up. The beginning of this book is awfully slow—as is the end, but at least stuff happens, then; I really had to struggle to get there. In fact, it isn't clear what's happened to Chiyo until the very last few pages, which does serve as a surprising, fitting plot twist, but I would have preferred not to plow through more than 200 pages to encounter it.

As Chiyo becomes unsettlingly involved in the social upheaval of the Samurai, her anger, vengeance, and mental instability soon make her realize the cruelty in herself, and the purpose it serves in fate's even crueler decisions.

I wish I had better things to say about The Weeping Empress but overall it's just excruciatingly sluggishly paced and most of the content doesn't flow well. The premise was promising, but the execution rather disappointing, and the characters unexplored.

Pros


Interesting insights on absolute power, deification, and spirituality // Great conclusion

Cons


Drags on a LOT // Ordinary style, sometimes confusing to follow // Plot is just an unmemorable jumble of battle sequences and folklore—easy to get lost in, and not in a good way // Flat, boring characters // I didn't even pick up on the Japanese Samurai theme until halfway into the story

Verdict

The adventure and edgy violence in The Weeping Empress may please some readers; this high fantasy novel has plenty of action and turmoil to go around. However, I was dissatisfied with it because of how hard it was to read—a result of its slow pace, mundane style, and lacking characters. I personally don't recommend this story about the warrior queen desperate to be saved; while reading, I was the one in desperate need of saving Americanflag

4 hearts: So-so; reading this book may cause wrinkles (from frowning so much) (x)