Fog Season: A Tale of Port Saint Frey (Tales of Port Saint Frey #2) by Patrice Sarath

fogseasonFog Season is the second in the Tales of Port Saint Frey series.  The first book was a fun fantasy of manners that didn’t take itself too seriously and brought to readers two sisters who have a bit of mettle about them not to mention brains and magic.

Please be aware that if you haven’t read the first book then there may be spoilers below.

In book one we were introduced to the Mederos family.  Formerly a family of merchants of good standing within Port Saint Frey their fortune and good name were brought low after a shipping disaster that they were deemed responsible for.  In book two we pick up fairly soon after the sisters uncovered the culprits who were responsible for their families misfortune and although their fortunes have since been restored there are still troubles aplenty and danger for the sisters.

As the story begins we’re introduced to a happy family scene, the girls are waving farewell to their parents who are setting forth on a voyage to discover what happened to their ships.  Of course, this leaves the girls happily in charge of the household and their own actions.  The staff are still very much diminished consisting of a formidable cook, a reliable butler (dare I say handsome and sometimes slightly dishevelled) and a sneaky housemaid, plus the rambunctious uncle.  We’re also introduced to a detective, hired by the other merchant houses to try and uncover what took place during the Great Fraud.  This man himself seems to have hidden talents and also a hidden agenda.  On top of this the regular constabulary are still investigating the actions and whereabouts of the Gentleman Bandit and it seems that there are at least two other interested parties in discovering more about Tesara’s magical abilities.

As with book one the story here revolves around the two sisters, Tesara and Yvienne.  Tesara is the younger sister and the one who is capable of magic.  Unfortunately her magical abilities garner the attention of some very unsavoury types who would use her for their own nefarious schemes (all whilst twirling their waxed moustaches of course).  Yvienne is renowned for her intellect and intelligence and is the sister who was primarily responsible for uncovering the schemes against her family.  I was really impressed in this instalment by the way in which the two seemed to share a much greater bond.  In the first book I didn’t really feel any strong family ties but I felt that came across a lot better in this instalment and there was no shortage of risk and danger for both of them to worry about as their previous actions came home to dwell.

I enjoyed Fog Season.  There was plenty of derring-do and ne’er do wells, a suggestion of romance and a lot of scheming.  If anything, it felt like there was almost too much action and too’ing and fro’ing but that’s not really a criticism.  More that I did, at points, feel like things were going round in circles.  I like the setting and the period feel but at the same time enjoy the sense of freedom that the author has managed to give the girls and I don’t mean just by their parents being absent.  Neither of them seem to be too encumbered by the rigid formalities of the period that seem to restrict others so much and I think that’s as a result not only of their families misfortunes but also the fact that they spent many years in a harsh boarding school where they were expected to clean as well as learn and this has almost given them a foot in both camps if you will.

In terms of criticisms the only thing I found lacking was any more information about Tesara’s magical abilities.  She seemed, as the book started, to have gained a bit better hold over her own powers, although they start to become out of control as the book proceeds, but there seems to be very little knowledge about why she is gifted or what the extent of her ability is.  I also think that Tesara is her own worst enemy sometimes – although I had to keep in mind that she is the younger sister.  Both sisters have, by their actions in the first book, caused suspicion but whereas Yvienne seems to think on her feet to try and lessen the impact it feels like Tesara is just too impetuous and it feels like her actions usually end up causing a lot of bother.  Still, in fairness, there would have been a good deal less action without Tesara charging about the place recklessly.

This is a fun series with a light feel and a period setting that fits well in between chunky reads to give a welcome change of pace.  I look forward to seeing what the author comes up with next.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

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The Sisters Mederos by Patrice Sarath

sistersI have to say from the outset that I had good fun reading The Sisters Mederos.  This is a fantasy of manners with two sisters, raised with privilege, whose family loses everything, and who, using their wits and determination seek to reinstate their family’s good name and fortune.

There’s not too much to go into in relation to the plot (don’t intend that to be disparaging btw).  The Mederos family was one of the most influential and wealthy merchant houses in Port Saint Frey until the fleet was sunk and it was discovered there was no insurance.  Their fall from grace was as spectacular as it was speedy and clearly somebody orchestrated the whole affair.  The sisters are determined to find out who is to blame although at the same time they need to take action to keep their family afloat.

As the story sets off we meet the Mederos family as they’re in the process of being accused.  The family home is taken from them, the girl’s uncle is imprisoned and the two girls are sent to boarding school.  When we next meet up with them the sisters have been returned home to their family after an absence of six years.  Times have changed, none of their former friends speak to them, they are impoverished and without any prospects reduced to bickering amongst themselves.  Thankfully the two sisters still have some ideas and enough guts to take matters into their own hands.

Yvienne is the elder sister and probably my favourite of the story.  She’s definitely the brains of the piece and has a plan for revealing those behind her family’s downfall. She already has ideas about what happened but she needs time to uncover more. Becoming a governess helps her to come up with an alibi for being out of the house without raising her family’s suspicion and dressing in boys clothing enables her to experience a new degree of freedom at the same time as helping her to come up with a new persona in the form of the Gentleman Bandit.  Tesara on the other hand is a little like the black sheep of the family.  She keeps secret the magic that she is capable of and blames herself for the storm that caused the fleet’s destruction out at sea. Tesara always seems to be in trouble with the family and longs for relief which comes in the form of invitations to parties – her families notoriety giving her a certain level of entertainment value.  Using these invitations and the friendship of a couple of young people who are not too worried about reputation Tesara eventually finds her forte is gambling.  Unfortunately as she moves in these circles she is starting to attract notice from parties that she would be better off not coming to the attention of.  Both girls take risks, they were scared, but they put their fear behind them and I have to say I admired their pluck.

Eventually both the sisters become deeper embroiled in their own webs of deceit until the final showdown where everything will either fall into place or a greater price paid.  The sisters thought they’d lost everything but their lives are at stake now.

This is a period drama but being set in an alternate world it doesn’t necessarily mimic the rules of propriety as strictly as a novel set in our world might do.  Both the sisters manage to get out and about with far fewer restrictions than you might expect but I liked that, it gave them a bit more agency to achieve things.  The place itself is only really briefly drawn but I didn’t find that a problem either as it felt easy enough to imagine a small seaside town of the era.

I think my main reservations with the story came in the form of the family ties.  I wouldn’t say that I really got a feel for them caring about each other, even the sisters. If they’d communicated a little more with each other they might have been able to work together as oppose to going off independently at tangents and sometimes almost working against the other and adding to the risk.  It felt like they could have come up with a more cogent plan for action, two heads being better than one.  The magic was also not really elaborated on and felt almost tacked on to add more of a ‘fantasy’ element – I’d like to see this explored a little more.

However, in spite of reservations and a few, what felt like, unfinished storylines, I found this an entertaining read.  Yes, certain storylines were left open but I’m figuring that maybe they’ll be focused on in future books and I would definitely be interested in reading more to see how the sisters develop and what adventures they get tied into next.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Friday Firsts : The Sisters Mederos by Patrice Sarath

FridayFirsts

Friday Firsts is a new meme that runs every Friday over on Tenacious Reader. The idea is to feature the opening sentences/paragraphs of your current book and try and outline your first impressions as a result. This is a quick and easy way to share a snippet of information about your current read and to perhaps tempt others.   This Friday I’m reading : The Sisters Mederos by Patrice Sarath: This is the start of Chapter 1 (following the prologue):

sistersTesara pretended she didn’t hear the loud whispers as she browsed the open window display of Sturridges, on the Mile.  The fine gifts emporium was decorated for Saint Frey’s Day  It was filled with gilded ribbons and chocolates, delicate porcelain, and fragile silk scarves of yellow and green for Spring.  She cocked her head exactly as if she were contemplating the difference between a delicately painted blown-glass egg and a cameo brooch, and in the meantime, took in all the none-too-subtle gossip around her.  She and her sister had only been home two weeks, but the rumor engine of Port Saint Frey was nothing if not efficient.

“I can’t believe she shows her face in public.”

“Look at that bonnet. Can you imagine?”

“She’s gotten so worn.  I heard she and her sister were reduced to scrubbing floors at a school for paupers.”

Tesara schooled her face into a smile and turned to face her tormentors.   The cluster of merchant misses huddled near the door, and as one they gasped and fled inside the store, their skirts rustling as they whisked inside to safety, where she dared not follow.  She could look all she wanted, but she knew what would happen if she tried to enter.  Even worse than the gossip of her former peers would be the crossed arms and forbidding posture of the shop girl.  The humiliation of denied entry would finish what the misses had wrought – her complete and utter dismissal from society.  Once more alone, she turned back to her private contemplation of the lovely things she could no longer afford.

 

My First Impressions

Well, straight away it is apparent that the sisters family has lost it’s fortune and society is being less than kind.  This snippet, with the bullying and condescending attitude of the other ‘ladies’ immediately makes me feel defensive of Tesara.  I can’t really glean a lot from these first chapters but I do like the feel that this is going to be a ‘manners, bonnets and ribbons’ style story.

What you reading this Friday??  What are your first impressions??

*The above excerpt was taken from an advanced reader copy and it is possible that the final version may have further changes.

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Sisters Mederos by Patrice Sarath

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is: The Sisters Mederos by Patrice Sarath. 

I love the sound of this one and the cover is very eye catching:

the sistersTwo sisters fight with manners, magic, and mayhem to reclaim their family’s name, in this captivating historical fantasy adventure.

House Mederos was once the wealthiest merchant family in Port Saint Frey. Now the family is disgraced, impoverished, and humbled by the powerful Merchants Guild. Daughters Yvienne and Tesara Mederos are determined to uncover who was behind their family’s downfall and get revenge. But Tesara has a secret – could it have been her wild magic that caused the storm that destroyed the family’s merchant fleet? The sisters’ schemes quickly get out of hand – gambling is one thing, but robbing people is another…

Together the sisters must trust each other to keep their secrets and save their family.

Due for publication April 2018.