Ondine: The Summer of Shambles by Ebony McKenna
|Ondine: The Summer of Shambles by Ebony McKenna|
|Reviewer: Loralei Haylock|
|Summary: Boy meets girl with a bit of fairy tale and ferret thrown into the mix. Fun, but predictable, and very silly.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: April 2010|
|Publisher: Egmont Books Ltd|
Ondine de Groot wants out of psychic summercamp, so together with her pet ferret Shambles, she flees from the tea leaf readings and astral projection classes, back to her family's restaurant. Only, as soon as she leaves summercamp, she starts hearing voices. Specifically a broad Scottish voice – one that seems to be coming from her ferret. Shambles, it transpires, is in fact a man, turned into a ferret by a witch. Ondine starts to wonder what Shambles would look like as a man, but her imaginings are soon interrupted by the arrival of handsome Lord Vincent, son of the Duke, who sets Ondine's heart fluttering.
Any book that starts with the words 'This is a great story' is asking for trouble really. While the tone McKenna strikes is meant to be tongue in cheek (something very definitely achieved to humorous effect later in the book) it's a bit much for a first line. Because of this, it took me ages to get into Ondine.
I would say this is a mediocre story. It's boy meets girl with a bit of fairy tale and ferret thrown in the mix. Fun, but predictable, and very silly. Obviously, starting a book like that wouldn't be quite as punchy, but perhaps it would have been best to omit any judgement of the story's merit and leave that up to the reader. Just a thought.
This book struggles to decide if it is out and out fantasy, a parallel world type setup, or a more urban fantasy style deal, where the magical happens in the real world and few people know about it. A lot of the humour relies on observations about the real world, which wouldn't work as well if it was set in an entirely fantasy world, but because of the references to a country that doesn't exist, psychic powers, witchcraft and men turning in to ferrets, like they are entirely normal facets of life, it comes across a bit disjointed.
McKenna adopts a style similar to Pratchett, with footnotes and quirky humour. Personally, I've always hated footnotes, and while they can work well – and sometimes do in Ondine, McKenna is particularly adept at drawing humour out of the parent-teenage child relationship – it's another thing that initially grated about this book.
Overall, this is one of those books where, if you stick it out past the first few chapters it's actually quite enjoyable. But the thing is, with so many great books out there that hook you from the first sentence, why should a reader have to slog through a few chapters of substandard to get to a story that isn't really great?
My thanks to the publishers for sending a copy.
If the style of Ondine appeals to you and you haven't read any Pratchett, do. If you enjoy books with a hint of fairy tale about them, try Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.