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I’m Tessa, The Last Scion. And You Are?

Buffy meets a snarkier Once Upon a Time in Kelly Thompson’s Storykiller.

I’m Tessa, The Last Scion. And You Are?

BOOK REPORT for Storykiller by Kelly Thompson

Cover Story: Menacing Peek-A-Boo
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: Fractured Fairytale
Bonus Factors: Presentation, Oregon, Awesome Hair
Relationship Status: WIP

Cover Story: Menacing Peek-A-Boo

If that axe-shaped hole wasn’t a good indication that the woman on the cover wasn’t to be messed with, the look on her face certainly would be. Love the illustration, but the double text of the title makes it difficult to read.

The Deal:

After her mother’s disappearance when she was young, Tessa Battle’s father became closed off and didn’t want to have to deal with raising a child. So, Tessa was shipped off to a variety of boarding schools. Right around the time she turned 17, however, Tessa went home, to Lore, Oregon. And on her 17th birthday, everything changed.

Tessa didn’t think much of the fact that she got sick in the bathroom at school, at least, not until she went home and found a bridge troll in her house. A bridge troll who had crashed his way through the dining room window and trashed the kitchen, looking for something—or someone—called the Scion.

BFF Charm: Yay

Having moved around a lot as a kid/teen, Tessa grew a thick skin. She’s a tough, no-nonsense kind of girl. She doesn’t make friends easily, and her abrasive nature is partly to blame; the fact that she’s not willing to put anyone in danger is another. And as the Scion, Tessa’s in the line of fire a lot. It’s understandable that she wouldn’t want to bring innocents into her situation, particularly when she has the choice. But when it comes down to it, Tessa’s both sweet and loyal, and those are two vital qualities in a friend. Plus, she’s a total badass with a bright red semi-mohawk whose favorite curse word is “balls.” (Which is one of my faves, too.) I’d be permanently jealous of her awesome hair, but I could learn to deal.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Tessa meets a lot of swoonworthy dudes in Storykiller, thanks, in part, to them being Stories—a.k.a. written to be “tall, dark and handsome” or the perfect hero. She takes a particular interest in one, who is extremely hot, dedicated and a literal good guy. But, if Stories are forced to stay within the bounds of their Fictions—and his happens to include a true love that’s not Tessa—this infatuation might not end well.

Talky Talk: Fractured Fairytales

Tessa’s world is one connected to the realm of Story, where all fictional characters ever written are alive. Yes, even Batman.

Instead, Brand’s eyes lit up. “Whoa. Like, Batman? Batman is real!?”
Midas sighed. “Yes. He’s real. And frankly? He’s kind of a dick.”
From behind, Aladdin shook his head in an emphatic “No” and then very clearly mouthed, “HE’S AWESOME.”

As Scion, Tessa runs into a variety of characters, from Robin Hood and Morgan le Fay to bridge trolls and zombies. (Side note: The world of Story must be ENORMOUS to hold everyone/thing.) And, as proof of her inventive imagination, Kelly Thompson breathes new life into all of them. I’m a huge fan of fairy tale retellings, and I love the idea of Storykiller’s Stories.

That said, I had a hard time reading this book. As someone who deals with words and editing for a living, Storykiller felt like a draft rather than a finished piece. I found myself re-reading overly long sentences and awkward passages thinking about how I’d edit them rather than their place in the story. Thompson has a good eye for detail, but often strays too far into showing readers a scene rather than helping us imagine it for ourselves. With a bit of revision, this book could be fantastic, but it’s not quite there yet.

Bonus Factor: Presentation

Illustration by Noelle Stevenson

Thompson Kickstarted Storykiller in order to be able to produce a limited-edition hardcover featuring illustrations from “comic book industry greats.” I wasn’t a backer, but I did receive one of the hardcovers (because Thompson is super generous like that). And let me tell you, it’s gorgeous. The 30-plus pages of art in the middle of the book is such a fun addition to the story, and the illustrations themselves are absolutely fantastic. Plus, there’s a ribbon bookmark, which for some weird reason just makes me really happy.

Bonus Factor: Oregon

Although I wasn’t born there, I spent most of my formative years in Oregon. I even got married in Portland. I consider it to be my home state, and the Oregon coast is one of my favorite places in the world to visit. Reading about Lore makes me long to go back.

Bonus Factor: Awesome Hair

Illustration by Ross Campbell

I mean, seriously. I so badly wish I could pull this look off.

Casting Call:

Natalie Dormer as Tessa

I know she’s too old for the role, but we know for a fact that she can pull of a fierce hairstyle like it’s no big thang.

Relationship Status: WIP

We have a complicated relationship, Book. On the on hand, I really like what you’re about. We made a connection on an important level: the love of good fiction. On the other hand, because I’m such a stickler for grammar/mechanics, the way you told your story was distracting to a fault. I think we can move past our differences, but it’s going to take some work.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author. I received neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Storykiller is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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