Novella Review for “Quest” by Mande Matthews

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Last week I reviewed a short novella by Mande Matthews, Queen’s Honor Episode One Betrothal. As of right now, there’s just two main episodes, or parts, to this story and I’m reviewing the second part today, Queen’s Honor Episode Two Quest. These novellas are told in an episodic style that is explained in the synopsis. Now, settle in friends because I have A LOT to say… This review will have spoilers.

Synopsis

After agreeing to marry Arthur, Guinevere thinks she’s solved all her problems—the protection of Camelaird, the freedom of her cousin, and the power to make a difference. But when she finds herself unable to control her attraction to Lancelot, a chance encounter with the knight threatens to ruin everything she’s strived to achieve.

To complicate matters, when she arrives in Camelot, she realizes she’s caught in an intricate web of magic and ulterior motivations—and some of those motivations seek to expose her unchaste desires for another man before her wedding day.

Quest is a novella (about ½ the length of a novel). Queen’s Honor will be told in episodic books meant to be read in a few hours each. What’s an episodic book? It’s formatted like your favorite television show or a miniseries where an overall story is broken down into smaller, self-contained stories. Each novella is a story by itself, yet the continuing characters will return for new stories that tie to an overall story-line. For those who don’t have time for longer books, this is a great shorter read, while those who love longer books will get the benefit of more episodes and a deepening story through multiple episodes.

My Thoughts

I really hate to criticize an indie author’s work but constructive criticism is how we all learn and grow. The overall story being told through these episodes has true potential. I’m very interested in the historical fiction aspect of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere blended with elements of magic. All of the characters have potential as well but as of this second part, they’re still woefully under developed.

The story is told completely through Guinevere’s point of view and it’s honestly miserable being trapped in her head. I feel like we’re supposed to think she’s a mature, young woman that is a true queen. However, she’s actually just a whiny woman with an “I’m not like other girls” complex that spends the entirety of the novella obsessing over Lancelot.

Speaking of her great love for Lancelot, there’s literally no basis for it. I was willing to let the insta love slide in the first episode because I assumed there was some magical element to them being so drawn to each other but nope, it’s just good ol’ tropey insta love. Other than his love for Guinevere and his horse, nothing else is known about Lancelot.

Along with the constant obsessing over Lancelot, the other issue with being trapped in Guinevere’s head is there’s no way to know what the other characters think of her and we’re mainly just hearing her thoughts but not “seeing” her actions. For example, Arthur announces a hunt to the townspeople in celebration of his engagement to Guinevere. Guinevere is with him when it’s announced and she makes note of him interacting with the townspeople but we’re not told if she spoke a word or really what she was doing. All we know is what she was thinking and that’s just not enough detail. I want to know if she was smiling, frowning, talking, etc. None of those details are ever given.

As for Arthur, Guinevere can’t stand him but there’s never a real reason given. Here’s a direct quote: “His exterior qualities were undeniable, but I still couldn’t help but think that in his depths lurked a smug and self-important man whose motivations were slightly less than valiant than everyone professed.”

I honestly think this entire story would have been much more interesting if she WOULD have felt something for Arthur. That could have led to a dramatic love triangle but instead we just have this girl who’s made up her mind that she can’t stand the man she has to marry and he must be evil.

So, how could this story be improved? There needs to be much more detail, about literally everything; especially the characters and setting. It would also help if Guinevere matured some and had at least one thought that didn’t revolve around Lancelot. The story also needs to be longer. I understand that these are episodic style novellas but they’re still on the short side, especially when they cost actual money.

Final Thoughts

I thought that this part was the end of the story but it left off on a cliff hanger. From what I understand, the author was going to continue the story if there was interest in it but this part was released in 2012. There is a short story called “Surrender” that was written for this series in 2015 and I’ll review it next week just to finish up the whole thing. Since Matthews hasn’t added on to the story in years, I doubt she will. I’m slightly annoyed that I paid for this series because there is no conclusion. This would have been better as something free on Wattpad until she actually finished the whole thing. I do not recommend that any of you buy this, despite it’s potential, because it’s not complete and may never be completed. I hate that this was a more ranty review but I hope you all enjoyed reading it, regardless. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading and have a great day!

 

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