Saturday, 27 April 2013

Nandana's Mark by Heidi Garrett

***SBRs 8th Best Read for 2013***

Publication date: 14th August 2012
Published by:  Half-Faerie Publishing
Genre:  Fantasy (YA)

I was apprehensive about this one because of the cover.  I know I am probably alone in my view but to me covers like this say “frivolous and fluffy”.  For those drawn to covers with attractive-looking girls with pouty lips (the female equivalent to handsome naked-torso guys), it’s not an issue (for the record, I’m not judging – it’s a matter of personal taste).  My point is that if like me you aren’t, my advice is: don’t judge this book by its cover.

I would describe Nandana’s Mark as a new Fairy Tale (as opposed to the retelling of an old one).  It is the first instalment of a series called the ‘The Queen of the Realm of Faerie’, inspired by the story of Melusine, a creature of European folklore that dates as far back as the 13th century.

Nandana’s Mark is about Melia, Melusine’s younger sister and the middle daughter of Elynus, a human, and Pressina, a faerie.  When mortals and faeries marry it is with the condition that the mortal make a solemn promise which, if broken, would permanently separate the couple.  Elynus broke his and so Pressina was forced to flee the human world and live in Illialei, part of the Realm of Faerie.  Elynus wants to reunite with the love of his life and seeks to do so by ‘incarnating Umbra’, which I have understood to mean bringing human form to a dark conscious force trapped in an alternate dimension (if I have understood correctly – see below).  Melia and her sisters are concerned about this as it could (or not) have devastating consequences for all who live in the Faerie Realm.  They join forces to try to stop their father with disastrous results …

As well as having rebooted elements of mythology, Nandana’s Mark is very much its own story and the combination of the two work very well.  This book isn’t just fantasy, it’s fantastic.  I really enjoyed it.  The plot is quite intricate and I was so intrigued.  A lot happens and I was never bored.  Garrett has clearly done her research.  It has all the elements of a traditional fairy tale but with 21st century prose (there are no weak damsels in distress in this book).  At the same time, it draws in elements of a modern faerie tale as well (see my article Fantasy Fiction: Fairies vs Faeries for more info), in particular the lines between good and evil are blurred.  One can draw parallels with real life too (from the casualties of the dysfunctional family to the more serious topic of ethnic cleansing and the social displacement of people - which brings me back to my point about judging the book by its cover: fluffy and frivolous it is not.)  

My criticisms would be (1) a lack of clarity in parts, e.g. Elynus explains the backstory of Umbra to the reader in his notes in the Book of Umbra but I struggled to understand it (but perhaps it was just my inability to comprehend??).  (2) At the beginning I felt bombarded with a lot of terminology, names and places I struggled to pronounce or understand.  (There is a glossary but I didn’t realise that until later.)  I do think however, that a second read would introduce new insights, which is always a good thing.

I am so thrilled to have found this series.  For me it’s like finding hidden treasure.  Well done Heidi Garrett!

This book was perfect for bringing to a close my April theme "All about the Fey" while offering an introduction to the May theme "Indie Author Showcase: Hidden Treasure". 


  1. Susan,

    Thank you for reviewing Nandana's Mark and for "getting" so much of the story—from the research that went into developing the world to many of the thematic underpinnings.

    A sincere & heartfelt thank you,


    1. Hi Heidi,

      I am glad you liked my review. It's so great to have author feedback. It really is a wonderful read.

      All the best,

  2. My Goodness! My review of Nandana's Mark is very popular. It has become the second most viewed post (second only to JKR's 'The Casual Vacancy').

    I hope it encourages readers to download a copy (it's free!). If you do, I'd love to know what you think. Please come back and let me know if you agree with my review (or not) ;)