The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson
ARC received via NetGalley for a fair review.
Publish Date: March 12, 2019
Where do I even start with this review? I have had such a hard time trying to put my thoughts on this book to words. Every time I start to write it all out I end up deleting and starting again. So this time I’m just going to be brutally honest and let you know where my brain is at while I write this because otherwise it may never get written. My brain is confused. A jumbled mess, because this isn’t a bad book. In fact it has a great message, and the writing at times is kind of beautiful. The whole book is really well written and you can tell the author has a lot of knowledge about what was going on in the world during the time that the book takes place. It has an easy to follow plot, with the exception of a few odd parts, but all in all once I got into this story I was interested enough to want to keep reading to find out what happens in the end. So what is it that has me so put off? Why couldn’t I love this book?
The first thing that kept me from truly loving The Bird King was that it is soooooo slooooowwww. For example, The Bird King is a nice solid 403 pages. I just recently read A Curse So Dark and Lonely which is 496 pages and I finished the entire book in one day. But when reading The Bird King, it took me almost two and a half weeks to finish the book. The only word that can describe the difference between the writing styles is that the writing in The Bird King is very dense. Every sentence is so packed full of description and meaning that it gave my brain a work out to try and decipher the meaning behind each word. There is so much to take in and comprehend while reading this book and that in itself slows my reading by a lot. Then on top of that when it wasn’t a beautiful description, it tended to get a little dry with facts and historical information. There were times when I thought to myself, ” I just don’t care about this” and wanted to skim ahead to more of the plot. This is why I tend to struggle with historical fiction books because I really want to retain the information that the author is giving me because it has to be important to the story in some way. But then I find myself struggling to understand how this relates to the story and it takes away from the flow of the plot.
The message of love and loyalty to friends and to oneself throughout this book is really beautiful and I appreciated that part of this book very much. I think that the friendship between Fatima and Hassan is really precious and I love that they care for each other so much. Although sometimes I thought Fatima to be particularly spoiled and bratty I still cherished everything that Hassan cared for. I almost wish that the book had been written from his POV instead. Their journey from beginning to end is such a strong message of freedom and love. And it felt so passionate at times that it moved me. But then there are times where Fatima drove me insane with her spoiled tendencies and how she treated Hassan. But that could just be me being protective of him because I just loved him so much and think he deserves the world!! But it was such an interesting dynamic of characters and the way they grow throughout the journey is pretty powerful.
While the rest of the book took a pretty clear path and was more or less easy to follow, the ending kind of got away from me. I won’t say too much so I don’t spoil anything, but it was so different from the rest of the story to me that it almost felt like a different book completely. I felt so confused and the only thing I could do at that point was just go with it. It was almost like the book started out very realistic and historical and then as the book goes on, it morphs into more and more of a fantasy. Here I am thinking its the story of how a concubine and a map-maker with a special skill escape a palace to free themselves. But instead we’ve got Djinn’s and sea creatures, and dragons? And maybe even some time travel thrown in there? I just couldn’t fathom what was going on by the end of the book and so I threw all reason to the wind.
I think that there were too many little things that kept me from truly loving this book. I found a lot of redeeming qualities that made me stick it through to the end, but it never had me feeling like this was going to be one of the greats. I think that for the right person, this might be an instant favorite, but for me it just wasn’t quite what I could enjoy.
If you liked this book:
There were a lot of elements in The Bird King to focus on when trying to pick a good recommendation. Then I thought of The Library of Fates and instantly the similarities were popping up right and left in my mind. Both of these stories take the characters on a grand adventure to find something that to all others is a myth. Not only that but they both have a touch of fantasy and magic realism. The journey is the main focus and the adventures that take place along the way.
Have you ever read a book that you wanted to love but you just couldn’t? That for whatever reason, you couldn’t find that spark that makes it one of your favorites? What does it take for you to know that a book isn’t going to be for you? I’d love to know what you think!