by Elissa Sussman
Publishing date: October 7th 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
“I am grateful for my father, who keeps me good and sweet. I am grateful for my mother, who keeps her own heart guarded and safe. I am grateful for my adviser, who keeps me protected. I am grateful for the Path, which keeps me pure. Ever after.”
Princess Aislynn has long dreamed about attending her Introduction Ball, about dancing with the handsome suitors her adviser has chosen for her, about meeting her true love and starting her happily ever after.
When the night of the ball finally arrives and Nerine Academy is awash with roses and royalty, Aislynn wants nothing more than to dance the night away, dutifully following the Path that has been laid out for her. She does not intend to stray.
But try as she might, Aislynn has never quite managed to control the magic that burns within her-magic brought on by wicked, terrible desires that threaten the Path she has vowed to take.
After all, it is wrong to want what you do not need. Isn’t it?
I haven't read much fairy tale like books if you don't count the ones I read as a child. Actually, I'm pretty sure I haven't read any. I don't know why I picked up Stray, but I guess I just wanted to bring a little diversity into my reading, and with the beautiful cover that Stray has, I ended up reading it. I am surprised by how much I enjoyed Stray. It's a kind of fairy tale interlaced with a really great world-building and fantasy elements & a cute and subtle romance.
Aislynn is currently attending Nerine Academy in which she shall learn everything there is about her future life and finding a proper husband, but also how to control her magic. She is to follow the Path. On the night of her Introduction Ball where she is supposed to choose her husband, an uncontrolled outburst of magic happens, and she is redirected. Meaning, she won't have the chance of living a normal life and starting a family, but she is to be a fairy godmother (read: she'll help other girls on following the Path). Is Aislynn going to continue with her schooling as a fairy godmother, or will she stop following the Path and stray?
Like I already mentioned, the strongest part of this book is the world-building. Elissa Sussman does such an amazing job at describing and creating the world that is so magical and intriguing and you just can't help it, but be sucked right into it. The whole idea of the Path is very unique in my opinion. There is a set of rules that you're supposed to follow, a certain way to live your life, and if you don't follow all the rules, you stray, and with that, you lose every privilege you previously had, like food or a place to sleep. You're up on your own in a world in which it's not easy to survive.
"I will accept the Path I am taking. I will not stray. I will not yearn for what I cannot have. I will heed the words of my advisers and guard my loving heart against cursed magic. Ever after."
Another thing that I really enjoyed in Stray, is the romance. It is very subtle but still very present. It never gets into the way, but it's always there and it's a nice thing when you don't have to read an awesome book, but it gets ruined with an awful lot of romance parts, or even worse, with insta-love!
Stray is the first book in the Four Sisters series, and even though every book is supposed to be a standalone, I am really glad they are placed in the same world. I must admit that I am really excited to read them. I think Stray would be a great read for everyone who likes retellings or fairy-tales. But even if you're not that much into it, maybe you should give this one a try and discover that this genre also has a lot of potential.