In the same week that I read The Wind in the Willows, I also read a book by Vivian Vande Velde. This book has been in my stacks for at least a year and a half. I'd bought it on sale, because it was a Velde book - and Velde is awesome! - and also because it was Arthurian mythology. No ordinary Arthurian mythology, but about a villain. Yes, VVV wrote a book called The Book of Mordred.
Awesome! I'm into the whole uncovering-the-person-behind-the-villain craze - I was more excited about Maleficent than most tween girls, I'd wager - and while Mordred was written before it all really got into mainstream swing, it still counts.
Unfortunately, Mordred didn't pull me in. A lot of it was that Mordred was barely in Mordred at all. For all it's a book about telling Mordred's side of the story - which I desperately wanted to hear - Velde focused more on the three women who were telling snippets of Mordred's life.
Look... there are some things that a good author should not do to their readers when they've promised them a story about someone like Mordred. One of those things, at the very top of the list, is to sideline the promised character to allow three unrelated characters - two-thirds of them original characters! - the chance to... if not shine, then at least try to. It's not fair to the reader.
I mean, sure, Mordred was cool. Great. Cute, apparently. Okay. He also had some issues with his parentage. Understandable. But this is The Book of Mordred. I want to know him! I want to get into his head. Not three random women's heads. (Okay, Nimue isn't random. But she's not all that connected to Mordred. Why?)
Maybe I wouldn't have minded that much if the three MCs had been more interesting. Alas. Alayna is boring, with no depth or endearing qualities to make me glad that I was in her head instead of Mordred's. Nimue is a little more interesting, but Mordred only comes into her story when it's over halfway through, and she's not that interesting. Keira is that "spunky young female protagonist" that litters this kind of literature - in other words, she's dead boring.
Also, what happened to Velde's writing? She writes so well in other books (Well-Timed Enchantment, anyone?). But her prose her was stiff and just as numbing as her protagonists.
All in all, a disappointment. I'm sad now.