Landry Park #1
Available February 4th
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
In a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish gentry, seventeen-year-old Madeline Landry dreams of going to the university. Unfortunately, gentry decorum and her domineering father won't allow that. Madeline must marry, like a good Landry woman, and run the family estate. But her world is turned upside down when she discovers the devastating consequences her lifestyle is having on those less fortunate. As Madeline begins to question everything she has ever learned, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself and David at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty - her family and the estate she loves dearly - and desire.
Landry Park is a story that seamlessly combines the progress of the future with the pageantry of the past, creating a glittering yet horrifying world where societal status is the sole determining factor of human worth. It's so very easy for us as readers to cast judgment on the gentry as a whole, calling them monsters and despicable excuses for human beings for the way they ignore the suffering of the Rootless, but yet we do so from the comfort of our homes, luxuriating in amenities we know so many people in our own world don't have access to or can't afford. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of Ms. Hagen's darkly jeweled society is the way it highlights the human ability to rationalize, the gentry so superiorly claiming the life their ancestors have built for them is one better and brighter than it was previously, when in fact the move has been a lateral one rather than an upward one, forward progress made on the broken backs of society's dispensable just as it had been before.
While the moral and ethical questions the battle between the gentry and the Rootless raises as we read are fascinating, where this book falters a bit is with the characters themselves. Madeline is a young woman we want desperately to like, someone who seems to disagree with her father in many of his political views and his treatment of the Rootless, but whenever a moment arises to put her thoughts into action, she does so in the most timid way possible, allowing her father, David and anyone else to run roughshod over her. She's like an infant dragon for majority of the book, coughing and sputtering smoke without ever learning how to breathe fire, always saying she wants to get to the bottom of certain things but giving up quickly and easily when answers don't immediately present themselves. She does finally take a stand at the end, leaving us hoping the Madeline we'll find in the next installment will be in full possession of her teeth, claws and that ever-elusive fire.
The romance leaves a bit to be desired mainly because David proves to be as much of a challenge as Madeline, leaving us constantly wondering what either of them sees in the other. In the beginning, he repeatedly refers to himself as charming, something often confirmed by Madeline when she finds she can't stop thinking about him, but sadly that charm gets lost in translation for us as readers, David coming across simply as condescending and somewhat incapable of picking a single mood and sticking with it. He's seemingly interested in Madeline one minute only to throw her family name and all that it means in her face the next, something that might have created an intriguing antagonistic element to their relationship save for Madeline's aforementioned timidity. Her quiet nature causes her to shrink back when we want nothing more than for her to leap forward and give him a much deserved what-for, finding ourselves a touch frustrated when instead she quickly gets past her confusion over David's less-than attractive moments the very next time she sees him.
Overall, the picture painted by Ms. Hagen is beautifully grotesque, forcing into sharp relief just how easily chaos results from order when gripped tight in an iron fist, and revealing to us in detail just how much blood decorates the walls of the esteemed Landry Park. Though the characters do cause us to stumble at times and the plot itself is more slow and steady than action-packed, we still can't help but be curious about what's to come for Madeline, David and everyone else after the dust of violence finally begins to settle.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.