cndlwxCandlewax by C. Bailey Sims
Release Date: April 3, 2012
Publisher: Terabyte Press
Source: NetGalley
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

An Ancient Prophecy. A Powerful Relic. An Insatiable Evil. When all three converge, the fate of every living thing will be in peril. All her life Catherine had hoped to see a fairrier cat. No book, no scroll provided to her by her tutors had ever mentioned this legend, much to her frustration, and now-at the worse possible time-she was getting her wish. Only, in her wish the cat wasn’t about to kill her. A 732-year-old fairrier cat the size of a horse has killed his fair share of hunters. Driven to the brink of extinction for the supernatural powers of his coat, is he indeed the last of his kind?
Sheltered, 16-year-old Catherine is about to find out. Unwitting heir to the Ancient Onyxes, she flees an arranged marriage only to stumble upon the cat’s secrets, the force of the ancient relic she wears, and the dangerous mission they must undertake.

Hidden under a desert that was once a fertile land, millions of predators are waiting to feast again. Catherine must discover the secret of the Ancient Onyxes and stop the creatures known as trodliks before they consume everything in their path. A whispered prophecy becomes her only guide and a rejected suitor just might be the one warrior she desperately needs.

Review:
Longest summary ever, right? Jeez. However, anything with a sentient cat has won me over before I’ve even begun, if I’m honest. This cat, Pokos, reminds me of Grimalkin from Maguire’s Wicked Years novels: blunt, forward, and not really that sensitive. Catherine herself sort of starts off badly. She sneaks out of her palace, gets robbed, and is clotheslined by a branch while fleeing. Pokos eats her horse. She is not a happy camper. From the third chapter, I suspected she had some kind of precognition; she mentions very realistic dreams more than once. This apparently has to do with being around Pokos. They pick up another girl, Bessie, in a village and end up running from Catherine’s betrothed, the Candlewax King. I liked him, Cyril, the Candlewax King. He’s very haughty, and he and Catherine are off to a bad start, but I think it’ll get better. There’s a lot of action in the first part, which I appreciated. Infodumps are no fun for anyone!

I’ll admit to first being annoyed that Catherine disguises Bessie as Princess, because I just felt like I already knew the ending. I won’t spoil it though. It was just extremely awkward reading about Cyril picking his way around Bessie, while assuming Catherine is a servant boy. Cyril is drawn to Catherine-as-Kenneth in a way that makes reading kind of cringeworthy. I even skimmed most of the detailing-the-landscape-of-Candlewax parts, just hoping someone would figure it out and stop it. I am put out of my misery after only a few chapters, but man, how I writhed. Things work out though, and Catherine continues on her journey. We meet The Betrayer, as well, but I won’t spoil his identity. I’d also like to mention that the trodliks remind me of the Diggers from the Bone World series. They were gross in those books and they’re gross in this one too!

Another thing that’s gross? When Catherine and her party arrive in Cinna, she “immediately dislikes” a beautiful, confident-looking woman with a tight bodice. Lovely. There’s going to be a Man Stealing Whore in this novel, that was my first thought. I was wrong about it in this instance, but it’s not uncommon. I need to rant about it. Look, people, women can be ugly or beautiful, dainty or not, and still be nice people! The tightness of the bodice does not reveal a person’s nature, so can we just stop with this bullshit trope? It shows up in every YA book that has ever existed (okay, that might be hyperbole) and I am sick of it. Not every story needs a woman out to steal the protag’s man, and really, it’s unrealistic. Bah. Granted, Julia isn’t working alone and she wasn’t trying to steal Cyril either, but there is only so much “instant dislike” between female characters that I can take, you know?

I skimmed so much description in this one, but I still liked the way it was written. Catherine wasn’t overly sheltered or annoying or too stupid to live, and the plot didn’t really drag at all. It’s pretty vanilla when it comes to the Catherine/Cyril romance, too. They wait forever to kiss and there’s no way we’re getting even a fade-to-black. Which is fine. I guess. I just liked Catherine and Cyril a lot as people, and they got over their issues really quickly (especially for YA). Catherine does her own thing and Cyril doesn’t want to “contain” her or anything. They fall in love. It’s nice. They have some sweet scenes that I enjoyed reading.

In all, I liked this one. It’s sweet and descriptive, with a real plot and a back-burner romance. Plus, it’s legit fantasy, and I love that. This one comes out tomorrow, so be sure to check it out if you’re so inclined.