The Storyspinner by Becky WallaceThe Storyspinner by Becky Wallace

The Storyspinner

byBecky Wallace

Hardcover | March 3, 2015

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Drama and danger abound in this fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected.

In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure.

The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.

With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything.

Details & Specs

Title:The StoryspinnerFormat:HardcoverDimensions:432 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.4 inPublished:March 3, 2015Publisher:Margaret K. McElderry BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1481405659

ISBN - 13:9781481405652

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Customer Reviews of The Storyspinner

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Storyspinner Entertaining, I loved that there were two girls very much capable of taking care of themselves and being the hero, and I thought the relationships, whether romantic or familial, were really strong. This does have a cliffhanger ending, so if that’s problematic for you, you may want to have the next book handy before starting on this one. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-05-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Love the book The book in from various point of views. One of the main characters in Johanna who is a performer and gets tangled up in politics. The world is interesting but the beginning is slow but near the end I had a hard time putting it down.
Date published: 2017-01-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Read Complete with romance and intrigue, this book is bound to keep you turning pages until the end. #PlumReview
Date published: 2017-01-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty gOOD This book was fun and exciting, with lots of adventure and a touch of romance. It was a surprisingly fast read, with a plot that I raced through and characters I loved. If I had to complain about anything, it would be the pace, and I would say that, even at 420 pages, it was too short. It ended right about where I'd expect the final confrontation to begin, with everyone's separate storyline hanging completely unresolved. This is a good thing in that it has generated a lot of tension for the next book, but not so good in that it verges on feeling less like a deliberate artistic choice and more like the author just gave up and is counting on the tension carrying over into the next book. Also, I am of two minds on the multiple POV's. There were five, and while it was interesting and engaging, it also meant there was a lot of jumping around, often in the same scene, between characters points of views. Sometimes, it became distracting, and so points off for that. Overall though, it was fun and original, and I'm definitely excited for the next one, if only because Wallace has me hanging off at least five different cliffs here.
Date published: 2016-12-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Very Mixed Thoughts My enjoyment of Becky Wallace's YA debut The Storyspinner is firmly in the "like" territory. Sure, there are some really thrilling, suspenseful moments in the book, especially towards the conclusion, but when it's essentially a given that Johanna is the long-lost princess of Santarem and one very obvious villain emerges, there's nothing really left to surprise me. The Storyspinner was entertaining enough to read in one sitting, but I kept waiting for plots twists to come that never did arrive. You know how the book description says the kingdom of Santarem is a place "where dukes plot their way to the throne"? It's actually a very misleading statement because, in actuality, it's just the one duke who's trying to claim the throne. I'm still undecided if I should consider another duke a serious enough contender in the power struggle. The other two dukes, teenage Lord Rafael DeSilva and his uncle, are both still very much loyal to the murdered royal family. And on another note, Johanna is hired—not forced—to work as a storyspinner on the DeSilva estate to help provide for her family. Rafael may grate on Joanna's nerves, but his younger brother and mother are really kind and supportive. Despite the hefty length of the novel, there still wasn't enough time to really see a lot of character growth. The Storyspinner is narrated from multiple POVs, a blur of changing perspectives that doesn't follow a particular pattern. Every major and minor character seemed to have their very own chapter dedicated to them, which was very disorienting for me to read. I don't mind a few POVs to help strengthen the world-building, especially since a single perspective from Johanna's POV could have been very limiting, but it was excessive how often Becky Wallace would shift perspectives. I don't need to be explicitly told what everyone is thinking or feeling! Please, allow us to read between the lines or leave some details as a mystery to be solved. The Keepers' Chronicles has a lot of potential to grow as a series, but I don't think The Storyspinner grabbed my attention enough to convince me the sequel would be a must-read. I wanted to fall in love with The Storyspinner, I really did, but in comparison to the dozens of other YA fantasy novels I've read, there was nothing about it that particularly stood out to me once I finishing reading the book. I wanted a narrative that felt fresh and exciting, and while I did see sparks of originality weaved into the storyline when it came to the mysterious, magical Keepers, the 6+ shifting perspectives was just so off-putting and lessened my enjoyment of what could have been a much more entertaining read.
Date published: 2015-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic fantasy read with a rich world I absolutely adore the world that was created in this book. It's always fun to read a book that is about people (sans magic powers) fight against those with magic. There are the Keepers, those with powers, who live on one side of a giant magical wall and the normal people who live on the other side. One of the main characters, Johanna, is a performer and she travels with her troupe and family to perform all over the kingdom. The Performer life is very interesting since they pretty much have their own culture and their own laws that are different to the culture in the rest of the country. Can I just say sexual tension? Sexual tension everywhere. This book is told in multiple points of view and there's at least five of them. It was a little hard in the beginning to follow along with the switching points of view and keep track of the characters, especially since there are points of view from both sides of the wall. The tension between Rafi and Johanna wasn't quite as bad as Pira and Leão. Reading about Pira and Leão just made me want to do that meme that pushes their heads together and says "Now kiss!" On the other hand, I love the way the relationship between Rafi and Johanna unraveled. It was slow and gradual and they are so adorable together. I can't wait to see more of them in the next book! I want to learn more about Jacaré simply because he's so old and it would be great to learn more about his past and in turn the history of this world. The plot is great and it really allows us to immerse ourselves into the world of The Storyspinner, since we get to see from both sides of the wall. However, it's very much a build up towards something bigger. This is fantasy after all and so I shouldn't really be surprised. The ending really leaves you wanting more since it ends in the same way as the first episode of a two part story line in a crime drama. I can't wait to read the next book to see what happens. I would love to see more political intrigue in the next book and of course I don't doubt that there's going to be more adventuring. I love Rafi and Johanna and I can't wait to see more of the two of them.
Date published: 2015-03-03

Extra Content

Read from the Book

The Storyspinner Chapter 1Johanna Johanna could feel it. The fear, the haste, the pebbles sliding under her feet, the hiss of arrows as they sliced through the air. She could see the dark clouds kissing the gray stone of the Citadel, hear the clash of steel and the cries of the dying. Blood and desperation hung thick in the air. Every word her father murmured—his voice pitched low to match the intensity of the tale—rang with images, sounds, and pictures. Some people told stories, but her father played every audience on taut strings, strumming their senses and plucking at their emotions. People would travel for days to hear one of his specially created works of art, to be entranced by his voice and the not-quite-magical powders he employed to illustrate each tale. The story of “The Thief and the Great Tree” was his personal specialty, but he didn’t tell it often. Johanna leaned forward, memorizing every pitch and cadence, waiting for the moment when he’d reach into one of the hidden pockets of his cloak for the handful of powder stored there. Even knowing it was coming, even watching carefully, she missed the trick. A cloud of fine brown dust filled the air between them, seeming to appear out of nowhere. His hands danced in the smoke, shaping the ephemeral mist into a great tree. “Fool,” a voice like a rockslide thundered from above. Twigs cracked as they spread wide, weaving and twining to form a cage that trapped the Thief from neck to knees. “Who are you to break the pact?” Her father’s hands twirled across the dust. A gnarled face materialized in the tree’s trunk. Its eyes reflected and magnified the scattered starlight, glaring pure malevolence at its captive, he said, and Johanna mouthed along. The Tree’s breath, icy as the last days of autumn, brushed the Thief’s skin and made him tremble. “P-please,” the Thief stuttered. “I only ventured onto the sacred mount to save the—” Footfalls sliding on the shale and loose gravel drew the Tree’s attention. “More oathbreakers!” “Let me go!” begged the Thief as he struggled against the Tree’s wooden embrace. “I only crossed onto the mountain to save King Wilhelm’s greatest treasure.” There was a moment of stillness, of awful silence, when the Thief knew the Tree weighed the truth of the words. The Thief held his breath, waiting to be crushed in the Tree’s grip. He heard nothing save the clank of armor as his pursuers drew nearer. Then the Great Tree’s topmost branches bent parallel to the ground, as if a sudden gale had forced them forward. The Thief realized it was a nod. “Take the treasure and run.” The cage disappeared, re-forming into a second hand, which lifted the Thief to his feet. “Run!” the Tree shouted. The Thief sprinted away, only looking back to see if the mountain was tumbling down behind him. It wasn’t. The Tree drew its roots out of the ground, pulverizing stone as it yanked tentacles out of the rock. They wound together, becoming giant legs that straddled the path. The Tree snatched the nearest soldier, and with a wet twist, the man became two halves. The Tree roared— “Arlo!” The tent snapped open as Johanna’s mother stepped into the enclosed space, the train of her emerald gown dragging behind her. “You have to be on the high wire in less than ten minutes.” Johanna rocked back on her heels, her heart still pounding from the power of her father’s tale. “Marin, my love.” He offered his wife the grin that endeared him to every audience. “I was just giving our daughter a few tips that will improve her Storyspinning.” “Not now, Arlo!” She hurried to her husband’s side, whisking the Storyspinner’s cloak from his shoulders to reveal the tight-fitting acrobat’s costume beneath. “Stories can wait for tomorrow. Paying crowds wait for nothing!” Marin’s words sounded sharp, but Johanna knew they were said with love. Her parents hissed at each other like mad cats before every show, but it was all preperformance anxiety. A good audience had the heady effect of strong champagne, making the Performers drunk on applause and accord. Once their routines were over and they received their ovation, her parents couldn’t remember what they had argued over. “She needed a refresher on some of the finer details—” “Oh please!” Johanna rolled her eyes. “I’d steal your listeners now if you’d let me take the stage.” Marin couldn’t restrain a grin in her daughter’s direction. They always stood together as a team to tease Arlo or cajole him to their way of thinking. “I’m afraid she’s right, my dear,” Marin said with a click of her tongue. “Johanna’s learned every bit of your trade and has a much prettier face.” Arlo spluttered with mock affront, and was ignored as his wife stripped off the outer layer of her gown and turned it inside out. A voice bellowed from outside their red-and-white dressing tent, calling Marin to her next position—a vocal performance on one of the smaller stages. She pulled a clip out of her hair. Her ash-blond curls fell free and completed the transformation for her next act. “Don’t let him be late!” she cautioned Johanna with a quick hug. “And check on your brothers. They were watching the acrobats warm up.” “Of course, Mama.” Johanna pecked her mother’s powdered cheek. “Sing the birds out of the trees.” “Always.” Marin disappeared through the tent flaps and didn’t look back. Johanna turned, expecting some witty remark or quick joke at her mother’s expense, but a troubled look marred her father’s face. “Papa,” she asked, instantly concerned. “What’s wrong? Is your back bothering you? I can get the jar of liniment. . . .” Her voice trailed off when she realized that he couldn’t hear her. He’d disappeared into a memory; and, from the slump of his shoulders, it wasn’t a pleasant one. “Papa?” Arlo shook himself out of his daze and straightened his spine, but the ghostly thoughts traced hard lines about his mouth. “Johanna, you remember the rest of the story, don’t you?” His voice was deep and husky, his eyes intense. “Of course. The Thief travels along the mountains till finally crossing back into Santarem, carrying King Wilhelm’s treasure the entire way. He promises to guard it for the rest of his life, never using it for his own gain.” Her father nodded along, his face still serious. “Good. It’s an important story. One you should take to heart.” “I know, I know. It teaches bravery and honor—” “It’s more than that, cara.” He called her by her pet name. “It’s a true story.” Johanna put her hands on her hips and adopted the glare her mother wore when her father was being ridiculous. With brown hair instead of blond and gray eyes instead of blue, Johanna didn’t resemble her mother, but she could imitate Marin perfectly. “You believe someone survived the massacre? That’s impossible. The troops killed everyone and burned everything.” Their travels from Performers’ Camp took them past the ruins of Roraima several times every year. She remembered the tumbledown walls of the former capital. The charred skeletons of homes and businesses reached through the ground, bones rising from the graveyard Roraima had become. Above it all was the Citadel, the once-proud castle of their deceased king, cowering like some terrified animal at the foot of the Keepers’ Mountains. Few people ventured into the ruins, claiming that evil things lurked in the shadow of the Citadel’s walls, and that the stench of death lingered—even fifteen years after the city’s destruction. “And yet, someone did survive,” her father insisted. “How else would we have the story?” Johanna opened her mouth to counter, but a Performer shouted for Arlo to get to his position. The grim seriousness dropped away from her father’s countenance in less time than it took his cloak to hit the floor. “We’ll talk about it more later.” He brushed her cheek with a quick kiss and bounded out of the tent with his typical grace. “Don’t go into the crowd alone and don’t let the boys get into mischief!” “Then you should wish me luck!” she yelled as the flap fell, and heard her father laugh in response. Her younger brothers, Joshua and Michael, weren’t typically naughty, but a Performers’ tent city was rife with opportunities for pranks and practical jokes—swapping the lids of the makeup containers or switching the pennants that flew over the performing area with several pairs of bloomers. As she left the tent, she scanned the sky for purple under­things flapping in the wind. Her younger siblings hadn’t replaced the flags. Yet. Performers costumed in a riot of colors, bangles, and patterns hurried through the temporary canvas town. Others warmed up soon-to-be-used voices, stretched well-trained muscles, or painted their lips red and outlined their eyes with dramatic black lines. Johanna smiled at the familiarity of it all. These people, seemingly crazy and loud, were her family. Not all of them were blood relatives, though she had a handful of cousins and an uncle in the troupe, but they cared for each other like kin. The acrobats were stacked three high, balancing on hands and shoulders. As she approached, her eldest brother, Thomas, climbed to the top of the teetering tower. “Have you seen the boys?” she yelled as he placed his palms on another acrobat’s head. Thomas shifted his weight and pushed himself into a handstand. “They were near the wagons,” he responded, pointing his toes to the sky. The man on the bottom row shifted his feet. “When you coming back, Jo?” Johanna ached to be back in the show, to hear the applause and her name shouted with adoration. An unfortunate incident with a flaming firesword had left her with a hideously short haircut and a nasty wound on her forearm. The injury didn’t bother her anymore, though the skin was tight and puckered. “I’d come back today, if the Council would let me.” She threw a series of back handsprings to demonstrate how well she’d recovered. “Good,” grunted the base of the tower. “You don’t fidget as much as Thomas!” “Hey! I’m doing my best,” her brother muttered. “Still . . .” Their bickering and laughter was drowned out by a small explosion. Red sparks shot into the air, cartwheeling over the camp. “Joshua! Michael!” the troupe’s Skylighter growled. The man was protective—and rightly so—of the volatile powders he used to paint the night sky with colorful bursts of flame. “When I catch you two, I swear I’ll . . .” Before he finished his curse, Johanna was running toward the multihued wagons that divided the tent camp from the performing area. Performers were a secretive people by nature, keeping the tricks of their trade private, sharing only with family members and apprentices. They didn’t appreciate crowd members wandering through their camp and stealing the secrets that made their entertainment so valuable. Johanna reached the boundary in time to see two blond heads disappear into the mass of people. She hesitated, remembering her father’s warning not to go into the crowd alone, before plunging into the throng. The entire township of Belem had turned out for the performances. Their duke, also known as Belem, hired a performing troupe to entertain his people at least twice each year. The peasants, dressed in their finery and drunk from a day of festival revelry, pressed close to the three raised stages trying to get a clearer view of the acrobats, Fireswords, and actors who entertained simultaneously. I’ll never find them in this mess, she thought as she shoved her way through the onlookers. Where would they have run to? Where would she have gone if she was still eleven or eight? To watch Father perform, of course. Some long-deceased Performer had built small platforms in the highest branches of the araucaria pines. Unlike their tri­angular relatives, the araucaria’s bristles grew in clumps at the top of the tree, giving an unobstructed view of the Performers high above the duke’s fine home. It was one of the few places where a fall from the high wire was truly dangerous. She searched the crowd for her father’s crimson costume, hoping her brothers would be nearby. He stood at the base of the tree, deep in discussion with a person she couldn’t see around the fat trunk. If it hadn’t been moments prior to his show, she wouldn’t have been surprised. Her father was always in negotiation with someone—nobles and peasants, merchants and fisherfolk, blacksmiths and bartenders—to schedule another show. And yet he usually spent the few moments before every show doing a mental rehearsal of his routine. It must be an excellent fee for him to do business now, she thought with a grin. The cannon boomed, signaling the beginning of the main attraction, and her father ascended the tree. Johanna turned, scanning the crowd. She still had no idea where her brothers had disappeared to. Perhaps they had continued beyond the performing area toward the rocky beach that bordered Duke Belem’s property? Her stomach swirled with nerves as she imagined the boys splashing around in the choppy water. Both were strong swimmers, but even so . . . The crowd bunched close, filling Johanna’s nose with the stench of perspiring bodies and the sickly-sweet scent of pink guava rum. A hand pinched her bottom, but she ignored it, moving along with the press and drawing nearer to the ocean with each step. Then, like fish caught in a giant net, the entire audience stopped. Every head tilted skyward, focusing on the man standing on a web-thin thread strung across the horizon. He waved bravely before edging his way across the rope, seemingly nervous and tentative. It was all a ploy. In a moment his arms would windmill; the audience would gasp both terrified and thrilled that they’d see this Performer fall to his death. Ten steps and her father did exactly as she expected. The man beside her muttered an oath under his breath, and Johanna bit her lip to keep a satisfied smirk from appearing on her face. The audience was locked in the moment; no eye blinked; no one shuffled forward. Then the arm actions propelled her father into a series of somersaults. An enormous cheer rose to the sky, completely blocking out the waves crashing on the beach nearby. The crowd didn’t mind that they’d been fooled. They loved the spectacle too much. Her father finished his routine with a standing backflip and flourish. She couldn’t see his smile but could tell by the confidence in his wave that he was proud—as always—of his performance. The audience applauded, then laughed when Arlo’s arms whipped through the air again, one shoulder dipping toward the rope. Johanna didn’t laugh. Her father rocked forward onto his toes, then back on his heels, throwing his hips out for balance. This wasn’t part of the act, and he never, ever deviated from his routine. Something was wrong. One foot lifted high off the rope, extending far to the side. “No!” The scream wrenched from her throat. She tried to force her way forward, but the crowd was too tight, the bodies too close. His other foot left the rope and he pinwheeled through the air, disappearing from view. The shrieks of delight turned to shrill cries of terror, all muffling the thud of his body as it smashed into the ground between groups of onlookers. Weeks later when Johanna woke from sweat-soaked nightmares, she was very grateful her brothers had disobeyed that night and gone to play on the beach. No child should ever have to watch their father die.

Editorial Reviews

"In a land where stories may be more than mere tales woven by artful Storyspinners, the search is on for the missing heiress to the kingdom... Readers will enjoy the quick pace of the tale."