Review of The Covens of Elmeeria, by Miguel Lopez de Leon

I won a copy of Miguel Lopez de Leon‘s The Coven’s of Elmeeria through Goodreads.

Description:
Princess Nia and her people have always publicly hated all witches. Witches are evil. Witches are cruel. But in one night, Nia must convince a deadly coven of sorceresses to help her defeat an army, or her family will be executed. Nia has always been adored by the masses. She is beyond reproach. Her one secret is that she was born a witch. 

The Covens of Elmeeria centers on Crown Princess Nia and the beautiful garden kingdom of Elmeeria. Nia and her parents, King Roo and Queen Bloom, are loved and celebrated by their people, but are also guarding a grave secret. Both Queen Bloom and Princess Nia are witches, and are terrified that the people of their kingdom will find out about them. What makes matters worse is that outside the great wall that surrounds Elmeeria is a banished coven of sorceresses, despised and ridiculed by the populace for their strange, dark powers. The popular royals want no association with the isolated enchantresses, but after their realm is invaded, Nia must travel through forbidden and treacherous lands to find the coven’s lair and beg them for their help. 

Nia desperately wants to prove that she can be a strong, capable leader, but what she doesn’t realize is that all power comes with sacrifice, and that to save the lives of her family she might have to lose the love of her people.

Review:
I won this through Goodreads and thought it looked like something my oldest daughter might like. But it’s categorized as Young Adult and the YA genre covers a lot of ground. I opted to read it before giving it to her, to be sure it falls on the Middle Grade side of YA , instead of the New Adult side.

I’m happy to say, for anyone wondering, I figure my 9yo will be fine reading it. But I’m still reluctant to give it to her. It’s simply not very good. (For the record though, the Annie B’s sea salt caramels I ate while reading it were excellent.)

I found this book to be  littered with what I consider problematic gender stereotypes. I cannot tell you how many times I rolled my eyes and huffed in irritation. It was like a man’s idea of what a woman’s life was like, based entirely on the ill-informed media stereotypes perpetrated by other men. Seriously, no depth at all! Plus, when I hit the 50 page mark and was still reading about Nia’s mother trying to marry her off and meeting princes and what beauty treatment or too tight dress they were wearing I almost just threw in the towel. Yes, I know some of this was part of the later duplicity, but I was still bothered by it. As I was by the surprise villain whose motivation weren’t touched on in the least.

Then there was the writing, which was largely telling. Worse still, I thought at one point that  if I had to read the words, ‘very,’ ‘Nia knew,’ or any more adjectives I might have to give this book up.

The thing is, if I do give it to my 9yo, she’s not going to notice a lot of these things. Despite my best efforts, she’s been inculcated with the girls, i.e. princesses wear pretty dresses and swoon over boys message since birth. My voice is just one dissension in the title wave that is the rest of the world. So, I have a decision to make. Do I bite my tongue and let her just enjoy it or do I toss it as something I’d prefer she not read and reinforce the message that all girls are pretty, but don’t relate to other women and the best they can hope for is to persuade someone to come fight for them?

 

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