Book review: Valiant by Sarah McGuire (ARC)

Valiant by Sarah McGuireAuthor:  Sarah McGuire
Genre: Middle grade, fantasy, fairy tale retelling
Publisher: Egmont USA
Publication Date: April 28, 2015 (I thought it was June 9! That’s what Netgalley said. Oops)
384 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Egmont USA for letting me read this!

Saville hates the bolts of fabric that her father loves more than her. After Saville’s father moves her to Reggen, he becomes ill, and she must find a way to survive, even if her plan involves wearing boy’s clothes and using those hated bolts of fabric to gain a commission from the king. Life gets even crazier when giants, which are supposed to only be stories, come for Reggen. Saville tricks them into leaving, and as court gossip does, tales of her triumph quickly turn into stories of giant slaying. But will the tailor be able to save the whole kingdom especially when she never meant to be a champion?

This one had a slow start for me. I don’t think we had enough time to really connect with any of the characters before things started happening – events during which we were supposed to care for them. I actually wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to finish it, but suddenly, somewhere in the story (almost halfway, I’d say), I got hooked. I don’t know whether it was the giants, the insane, power-hungry Duke, Saville’s daring bravery, or the love interest. But whatever it was, I raced through the rest of the book in no time. However, while I enjoyed reading Valiant, I felt like a lot of it was filler. There was a decent amount of time waiting for something to happen or with Saville’s inner thoughts that felt unnecessary.

On the other hand, I loved the creativity and the story here. It’s a retelling of The Valiant Little Tailor, but Valiant was also really imaginative and a tale of its own. Saville is a great character: brave, smart, and independent. Occasionally, I felt that she changed her mind too quickly; a few times, time that she spent deciding/learning/growing (like the first few months creating clothes for the king) was skimmed over, which made it hard to connect to her and the story.

The bottom line: Valiant is the simple story of a girl who becomes a champion. It’s creative and (after the beginning) pretty entertaining. It was fun to read but not without its problems. I’d recommend it to those who love fairy tale retellings, particularly those fairy tales that are usually ignored.

Rating: 6 – good, but not great