ARC REVIEW: Jilliand – by Clare Gutierrez

Title: Jilliand
Author: Clare Gutierrez
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: April 17th 2018
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group
Finished reading: April 3rd 2018
Pages: 298

“I keep my word. My word is all I have left to me.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Greenleaf Book Group in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I admit I was sold as soon as I saw the cover and mention of vikings. I’m a huge fan of the TV show Vikings and I don’t think I’ve ever read a story about vikings before, so I was really excited to be reading Jilliand. And it was by no means a bad read, just that it didn’t manage to blow me away. There was just something about the tone and writing style that felt a bit distant and made it harder to connect to the story. Also, I felt there were sudden changes between scenes and POV that either didn’t feel natural or simply didn’t connect with each other. More than once I found myself wondering suddenly what was happening, where they were or who the story was talking about… Not a good sign. This also happened more than once with sudden changes between a first and third person POV, although those might be solved in the final version. Still, these incoherences made it hard to concentrate on the story and slowed down the pace. I also felt the characters lacked some dept, and I was kept wanting for more when it comes to background and general character information. That said, it does show the author has investigated the time period and I realize it is hard to get solid information of a period there isn’t all that much ‘neutral’ information available of in the first place. The story follows two main characters in particular over a large span of time. While it was interesting to see the changes in both character and environment, I also thought there were almost too many things happening in the amount of pages available. This is probably why I felt a lack of dept as a consequence; long periods were sometimes skipped and other scenes were not as detailed as I would have liked. Still, Jilliand is quite an interesting read set in a time period that hasn’t been written about that frequently. It’s a story of survival, (forbidden) love, vikings, war and plundering… And although the ending came a bit sudden, I bet most will be able to appreciate it.

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Jilliand hasn’t had an easy life so far, losing her mother at birth and having to live with a father who wanted a son instead. She has been locked up and beaten for years, only barely surviving… Until one night she manages to escape her prison just in time with some help. But life outside is by no means easy either, and Jilliand is ill prepared for what is to come. And she definitely didn’t know how to act when Vikings start plundering the village she took refuge in.

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I really wanted to love Jilland, and I admit it was nice to see some similarities to the traditions and customs I’ve become used to after watching the Vikings TV Show. While Jilliand had an interesting premise and background story, using the forbidden love element to weave two different stories and cultures together, I almost felt there was too much going on at once, resulting in a lack of dept instead. There was just something about the writing style and tone that didn’t manage to grab me either, and all in all I didn’t end up enjoying it as much as I hoped I would. It’s not a bad read, but unfortunately didn’t manage to wow me either.


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