The Carver by Jacob Devlin

Rating: 4/5
Genre: YA Fantasy/ Fairytale Retelling
Recommended Age: 13+ (some strong language) the
Favorite Quote: “Of course not! You wouldn’t be happy if a thousand puppies slid down a rainbow with ice cream cones and told you you’d never have to do homework again.” … “I mean, I’m kind of allergic to dogs, so –”
I was provided a free copy of this book by the publishing company I represent: Blaze Publishing. This did not influence my opinion of the book.
Crescenzo (sometimes called Enzo) is a 15 year old child who has grown up seeing his father carve these intricate figurines. His father, Pino, doesn’t even start carving after his wife and Enzo’s ​mother disappears. No trace, no phone calls, just vanishes. Soon Enzo’s neighbor loses his wife and child. Like Enzo’s mother they both disappeared without a trace. When a strange man suddenly appears in Enzo’s home and kidnaps his father as well, Enzo and his neighbor, Pietro, have to journey across the country in order to find the wooden people Pino carved if they have any hope of finding the ones they love. Old secrets and new mysteries are revealed when they start finding the look alikes of the wooden carvings and when those characters seem to be from a different world.
I wasn’t expecting this book to be a fairytale retelling, but that’s also because I’m horrible at not reading the back cover blurb for books I choose to read. That being said I have decided that since there are numerous retellings of fairytales now, I need to also judge the book on how if it sticks to the original story format or takes off on its own. On that account, i liked that the book took off on its own and that it Incorporated a lot of different fairytales and expanded on them. The plot developed nicely because of this and I loved how the author imagined this world in which the fairytale characters lived in after their tales had ended. 
The book was also very insightful on how easy it could be to corrupt others and how you shouldn’t trust a witch (duh, it’s a fairytale! Of course you shouldn’t trust the witches!). Overall, I felt the book was very enjoyable and fresh breath of air in the retelling world where a lot of retellings stick to the plot of their fairytale counterpart. While I also enjoyed the pacing of the book, the characters, and the ease of reading, I did have some quips about them.
The pacing was good once one got used to it, but in comparison to other books I’ve read it felt a tad slow and drawn out. The book switched between 4 different time and place periods, which made the pacing feel extra slow and it was a bit of a challenge to reorient yourself to each different time zone. The quality of writing was quite good, but at certain points I feel the author was a bit vague or sometimes overly expectant in his assumption that the reader would know what’s going on or why certain characters were needed for a certain event. I felt very confused as to why those characters were chosen when I could name 7 others who would be better (Kingdom Hearts taught me different). These issues ultimately effected the ease of reading for me and left me very confused and in need of answers. 
While I loved characters and I enjoy seeing how different authors write my favorite fairy tale characters, I felt the author missed a huge opportunity in writing about many many MANY more fairytale characters that could have made appearances or could have been talked about. The author mainly stuck to a handful of characters when I know the Woodlands is a vast place with thousands of fairytale characters.
All in all I felt the book was enjoyable, but very confusing at times and slow. I also wanted more fairytale characters than what I received. While I had issues with the book I feel like the upcoming sequel will fix this problems and I have hope for answers to all the questions I have, which is why I rated the book a 4/5. If you’re a fan of retellings, then this book is a good mix of Once Upon a Time and The Wolf Amoung Us/the Fables comic book series. 


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