Okay, so I know that there will be a fair few people who disagree with my review of Colorless by Rita Stradling, but I freaking loved it! It wasn’t your run of the mill easy to infer, everything presented on platter, with simple cookie-cutter characters YA book. Instead we are asked to consider issues with class, politics, modesty and public judgement, and what it means to be forgotten by society. Amazing.
Author: Rita Stradling
Publisher: Rita Stradling Books
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Teens & YA
Themes: Classed Societies, Friendship, Magic, Murder Mystery
My Rating: 4.5/ 5
In Domengrad, there are rules all must live by: Fear the Gods. Worship the Magicians. Forsake the Iconoclasts.
To Annabelle Klein, the rules laid down by the Magicians are the mere ramblings of stuffy old men. As far as she’s concerned, the historic Iconoclasts, heretics who nearly destroyed the Magicians so long ago, are nothing but myth. She has much more important matters to worry about.
Heiress to a manor mortgaged down to its candlesticks and betrothed to her loathsome cousin, sixteen-year-old Annabelle doubts the gods could forsake her more.
Then Annabelle is informed of her parents’ sudden and simultaneous deaths, and all of the pigment drips out of her skin and hair, leaving her colourless. Within moments, Annabelle is invisible and forgotten by all who know her.
Living like a wraith in her own home, Annabelle discovers that to regain her color she must solve the mystery behind her parents’ murders and her strange transformation.
Meanwhile, hundreds of the Magicians’ monks, with their all-black eyes and conjoined minds, have usurped control of Annabelle’s family manor. An Iconoclast is rumored to be about—a person who they claim goes unseen, unheard, and lost to memory, yet is the greatest threat to all of Domengrad. For the first time in a hundred years, the monks plan to unleash the dire wolves of old.
Their only target: Annabelle.
I can’t deny that I was totally drawn in by the cover on this baby. I knew nothing about Rita Stradling, and had no prior knowledge of the book before checking out the blurb on NetGalley, and I am so glad that I took a gamble on something completely new!
Perhaps because I love historical fiction so much I immediately latched on to the plot line surrounding classed society and I really, really loved how the disconnect between characters from different classes created drama. Not only do characters like Annabelle and Dylan embody the stereotypical tropes that accompany their social standing, it quickly becomes apparent that this has everything to do with upbringing and societal structure rather than deep set personal beliefs. Even those characters that I loved to hate in the beginning I ended up loving – or for some pitying – in the end.
I think that the concept of the Gods, the Magicians, and the Iconoclasts was incredibly well executed. The only thing that I ever wanted more of were details on Domengrad itself and why Iconoclasts were feared. Ultimately though, I loved the slow delivery of world building information as it avoided the always dry info-dump that accompanies so many created worlds. I am excited to see what more is revealed about Domengrad, the Magicians, and the Gods in the coming sequels as I have no doubt that it will only get better as the story goes on.
Of all the characters, I really didn’t start liking Annabelle until the very end – she makes a much better bad-ass than she does a lady. Initially I found her contrived and infuriating, but her grit and determination did a really great job of moving the plot along. I loved how she ended up following in the footsteps of her Father and Fauve and rejecting the system that saw her merely as a cog in a breeding programme. I won’t give away her final act, but I may have shouted out a good ‘Oh no you didn’t!’ as shit went down. It was the perfect ending for this book, and the perfect jumping in point for a sequel.
I know that this book won’t be for everyone – not only is it complex and demanding, the writing style is vastly different from what is often expected in YA. Stradling hits on some big issues and some controversial issues, and will no doubt encounter criticism from one camp or another – especially when it comes to inclusion in school libraries. But guess what? I don’t care. I loved it, and I would recommend that you read it for yourself to form your own opinions!