Sunday, 22 September 2019

Fate by Mary Corran

Fate by Mary Corran
First published by Millennium in March 1995. Republished by Endeavour Venture in October 2015.

One of my 2019 Mount TBR Challenge reads

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hope. Horror. Heartache. There’s a little of each fated for all of us…

Asher’s world is a small one, bound by the conventions forced upon its people by an oppressive invader. But not everyone is content with their lot… A number of rebellious and independent women have grouped together, struggling against the might of the Grey Men. Asher is fearless but often it is too late once she realises danger is near. 

Women have always been secondary citizens in Venture, but under their new rulers Venture’s menfolk too, and even the Oracle — the fantastic phenomenon at the centre of the city’s life — and its adherents are subjugated. Everyone will be forced to work harder and harder against injustice merely to pay the tithe that their ruthless oppressors demand. People are driven to terrible actions and suffer insurmountable struggles…

Asher is deeply suspicious of the Oracle but it still speaks and on Fair Day she is called to hear its message. Reluctantly she confronts her greatest fear — that the course of her life may have been mapped in stone — and a spectre from her past. But now, what she has always feared may present an unexpected chance to salvage her country’s future. 

Asher must learn to listen to her instinct and face her fears if she is to save herself and her friends. She strives to set a new precedent not only for herself but for women everywhere, running against the tide of opinion and daring to challenge the authorities. Yet great sacrifices are made if the world is to be changed for good…

Fate is a spellbinding fantasy tale about one woman’s chance to save her people from the darkest throes of oppression.

I featured Fate in a Books From The Backlog post in June last year, having bought it in November 2015 and not read it. Now, nearly four years after its purchase, I finally read this book and I did enjoy it! Despite its cover art, this is not a Red Riding Hood retelling, but rather a fantasy quest novel with a delightfully strong feminist slant. Our heroine, Asher, is living under a double oppression firstly within an occupied country and secondly from social conventions with have reduced women's roles in her society to either mothers or decorations. Asher's railing against both subjugations makes for a good story with a lot of oh-so-true observations on British society too. I did feel that Corran was a bit heavy handed with her philosophical arguments at times, and Asher's initial refusal to learn from her mistakes was exasperating although very believable. What I did like though was the way we saw her grow into her potential as her quest progressed.

I'm not a big reader of fantasy stories - which is the main reason why it took me so long to get started on this one. I did feel that Fate's main narrative went pretty much where I expected to, albeit in an interesting way, and I didn't like the city names - Fate, Omen, Venture, and especially the misspelled Kepesake. What's with that?! I did like Corran's writing style and could empathise with her characters. Perhaps the physical settings and world-building could have done with a little more refinement because I felt some were overdescribed with others not benefiting from enough attention. This could be my lack of fantasy-reading experience showing though with me not picking up on genre standards or tropes. Overall though, Fate is a fun adventure novel and I have no regrets about spending time in Asher's world. I'm not sure that I would pick up another of Corran's fantasy stories, but I have added her mental health memoir to my TBR.

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  1. I love the cover, too. It's too bad you didn't really have a great time reading it. I am not a fan of fantasy as well, so it's tough to find one that I totally loved, nor would I pick up out of my volition.

    1. It's a pretty good story with a nice angle, but just didn't wow me

  2. The misspelling would have driven me crazy as well! My first thought on seeing the cover was that it was a Red Riding Hood retelling, but I was way off the mark!

  3. From the cover I totally thought middle grade and didn't even think red riding hood. hahaha But it truly is an odd cover for a women empowerment story. It actually sounds very vague which is the main reason I would pass it up. I have zero expectations of enjoying it knowing so little. ❤️ Great review though of what you felt reading it Stephanie.

    1. I'm not convinced that whoever chose the cover art had actually read the book!

  4. I was surprised to know it was fantasy too because I know you don't read the genre much. But I am glad you were able to enjoy this one nonetheless :)