Book Review

Bravely

Bravely

  • Author: Maggie Stiefvater 
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Publication Date: May 3, 2022
  • Publisher: Disney Press

Thank you to NetGalley and Disney Press for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

CONTENT WARNING: death

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Merida goes on an all-new, life-changing adventure in this original YA novel set several years after the close of Brave!

What if you had one year to save everything you loved?

ONE PRINCESS. Merida of DunBroch needs a change. She loves her family—jovial King Fergus, proper Queen Elinor, the mischievous triplets— and her peaceful kingdom. But she’s frustrated by its sluggishness; each day, the same. Merida longs for adventure, purpose, challenge – maybe even, someday, love.

TWO GODS. But the fiery Princess never expects her disquiet to manifest by way of Feradach, an uncanny supernatural being tasked with rooting out rot and stagnation, who appears in DunBroch on Christmas Eve with the intent to demolish the realm – and everyone within. Only the intervention of the Cailleach, an ancient entity of creation, gives Merida a shred of hope: convince her family to change within the year – or suffer the eternal consequences.

THREE VOYAGES. Under the watchful eyes of the gods, Merida leads a series of epic journeys to kingdoms near and far in an attempt to inspire revolution within her family. But in her efforts to save those she loves from ruin, has Merida lost sight of the Clan member grown most stagnant of all – herself?

FOUR SEASONS TO SAVE DUNBROCH – OR SEE IT DESTROYED, FOREVER.

Since honesty is my policy, I have to admit that I can’t remember anything about Brave (the movie), and I’m not even sure if I’ve ever seen it. But none of that mattered, and I wasn’t ever lost while reading this. It works perfectly as a standalone.

Merida has recently returned after a year of traveling around Scotland, but she’s still full of restless energy and what sounds an awful lot like wanderlust. She’s an easy character to love, full of love and loyalty to her family, and an immensely accepting nature. But her family is set in her ways, and doesn’t see the point of change. So when she encounters two gods that force her hand towards making changes within her family to avoid their destruction, she has to start thinking creatively to encourage them to change without realizing. Of course that isn’t the only issue affecting DunBroch either — there’s another threat looming on the horizon that has nothing to do with the gods, and while it interfered with her mission at times, it also pushed her to make certain changes.

I loved seeing how the characters all interact with each other, especially in the way it acknowledges how difficult it can be with adolescents around. The story definitely had a similar feel to Disney movies, although it also felt more clearly geared towards YA readers, discussing some issues that older teens face as they struggle with their new role in life. 

This was a fast read, with travel and plenty of things going on, so that I never felt bored. I was intrigued from early on, and one of my favorite parts was the way that historical aspects of Scotland, Scottish mythology, and holidays were portrayed. This was one of the more fun reads that I’ve found. While I’m already a huge fan of Maggie Stiefvater, this book brought all the best to the table, although it’s in a different style than her others works that I’ve read thus far.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 4

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