The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory is a swash-buckling, girl-disguised-as-boy fantasy adventure that is mostly what you would expect from that description. I was hooked by the prologue immediately and found the mix of spooky magic and adventure on the sea entertaining if not shockingly original. If you’re looking for a fantasy that blows tropes out of the water, this isn’t the book you’re looking for. However, if you’re looking for a fun read and enjoy plots where the heroine is disguised as a guy but then falls for her guy friend, you are probably in the right place!
Note: I received an advanced copy of The House of the Four Winds from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
The House of the Four Winds by James Mallory, Mercedes Lackey (One Dozen Daughters #1)
Published by Tor Books on Aug. 5th, 2014
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Page Length: 304 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley, Publisher
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The rulers of tiny, impoverished Swansgaard have twelve daughters and one son. While the prince’s future is assured, his twelve sisters must find their own fortunes.
Disguising herself as Clarence, a sailor, Princess Clarice intends to work her way to the New World. When the crew rebels, Clarice/Clarence, an expert with rapier and dagger, sides with the handsome navigator, Dominick, and kills the cruel captain.
Dominick leads the now-outlawed crew in search of treasure in the secret pirate haven known as The House of Four Winds. They encounter the sorceress Shamal, who claims Dominick for her own—but Clarice has fallen hard for Dominick and won’t give him up without a fight.
- The premise of The House of the Four Winds is that Clarice’s family can’t afford royal dowries for all their daughters and she has been allowed to practice swordplay her entire life, so she sets off to find her fortune dressed as a young sailor. I found the plausibility of Clarice maintaining her disguise to hold up throughout The House of the Four Winds between the description of her binding her chest, making sure she had her own quarters, and generally being careful to adopt speech patterns that wouldn’t give her away. Yey believability!
- I can’t emphasize enough how much I adored the prologue. The feminism and sense expressed by Clarice’s parents, the Duke and Duchess of a small duchy was lovely to see in a royal family and I honestly could have spent much more time with her family before Clarice sets out on her adventure.
- The romance between Clarice and a fellow sailor obviously has to be slow burn given he doesn’t realize that he could be romantically attracted to her, but things continue to be sweet and rather adorable even after that tension is gone.
- There isn’t a lot of magic in The House of the Four Winds, but what there is is both subtle and spooky! Once you get to the second half, the magic really gets going and seems to be a bit jammed together, but makes for quite an epic development ;-).
- I got a very Princess Bride + swashbuckling adventure feeling from The House of the Four Winds, so especially if you are a big fan of the movie, you will probably enjoy The House of the Four Winds :D.
- The plot of The House of the Four Winds meanders quite a bit. The main plot is really just Clarice finding and dealing with adventurous situations, which doesn’t make for much of a goal-driven and satisfying plot if that is the kind of reader you are.
- I ended up being slightly disappointed that the humor and spirited-nature of the prologue did not really continue throughout The House of the Four Winds. The prologue makes you think that The House of the Four Winds is going to almost make fun of traditional fantasy, whereas the meat of the story goes along with what has generally become modern sea-faring fantasy.
- Looking at my list of strengths, I feel like I should have enjoyed The House of the Four Winds more than I did and I think that the writing just missed that “wow” factor that I’m looking for these days. I was never tempted to stay up late to keep reading, but I also never found myself trying to avoid reading The House of the Four Winds. It was just a solidly enjoyable reading experience.
The House of the Four Winds is an enjoyable swashbuckling adventure with a dash of magic, a healthy helping of slow-burn romance, and of course the main ingredient of a girl dressed as a boy and set out for an adventure. If that sounds awesome, then pick up this beautiful book!
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.