ARC REVIEW: The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter – by Julia Drosten

Title: The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter
Author: Julia Drosten
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: August 8th 2016
Publisher: AmazonCrossing
Finished reading: March 26th 2018
Pages: 295
(Originally written in German: ‘Die Elefantenhüterin’)

“Sometimes it’s very hard not to follow the path of revenge.”

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

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I have a weak spot for historical fiction, especially if they are set in an era or country I’m not all that familiar with. I was instantly intrigued when I first read about The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter, with its promises of a country/culture I don’t know much about as well as the era the story takes place. The 19th century history of Ceylon (now called Scri Lanka) is a fascinating background for this story and the descriptions of both the country itself and the customs and culture are lavishly and thoroughly described. It is really easy to imagine how Ceylon would have looked like from the descriptions alone! And it also shows the background for this story was very well researched and put together. Sadly, somehow I didn’t manage to get a proper feel for The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter though. While I love thorough descriptions, especially of places that are foreign to me, I started to wonder about the balance of those descriptions and the actual plot. It is true that the descriptions help set the right atmosphere and foreign setting/era, but they also slowed down the pace considerably. And not just the pace, because I also felt the transition from background descriptions to the more active parts was quite haltered and as a consequence the story didn’t really flow. I can’t put my finger on the why exactly, but I think my mixed feelings had a lot to do with the general tone and writing style as well. Both seemed distant and not natural, and the second especially stood out in the dialogues. And in general, even though they story describes some pretty barbaric events, it doesn’t seem to be able to provoke true emotions due to this feeling of distance. The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter has a lot of potential and the main characters have an interesting story, but sadly I wasn’t able to enjoy this story better. I’m still wondering if part of my problem with the tone and writing style could have been due to the fact this novel is a translation though, and some of its original charm might have been lost.

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In the royal city of Kandy, the king’s elephant keeper’s wife gives birth to a daughter the same day the king’s favorite elephant gives birth to her young. The couple was desperate for a boy to ensure the line of succession, and the mother hides her daughter’s gender by raising her as a boy. Phera and her elephant Siddhi become close friends and spends most of her time with the animal. Phera realizes she is not like other boys, but her parents force her to keep her true gender a secret… Until the British colonists invade Ceylon and they have to flee the capital.

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I really wanted to like this one and I still think the plot itself has a lot of potential. The worldbuilding and descriptions of the era and setting are thorough and it shows the background of The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter was very well researched. Sadly, I’m still on the fence about this one, as I didn’t manage to enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Part of the problem was the tone and writing style as well as the fact the story didn’t really flow… Which made it hard to properly connect to the story. The setting is fascinating though as well as the time period the story is set in with its consequences of the British invasion.


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WWW Wednesdays 169 – March 28th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I started reading one my pending ARCs The Good Twin by Marti Green yesterday evening, and although it’s still early days, I’m having high hopes for this one. I’m also about to finally pick up Ready Player One by Ernest Cline… I’ve been saying this for ages, but now the time has finally come! Definitely looking forward to it.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Deadly Secrets by Robert Bryndza (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 30/03
I had high expectations for this newest DCI Erika Foster story and I’m happy to say those expectations were more than met. I enjoyed every single minute of Deadly Secrets! Book number six takes a bit of a different direction and Erika Foster is not as present as normal, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of action and a very interesting police investigation to follow. This case is another disturbing one that will lead to many misleading twists as the team is trying to untangle the lies and secrets that surround the life of the victim. Very much recommended for fans of the genre!

2. Wing Jones by Katherine Webber (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 29/03
Wing Jones is a YA contemporary romance story with a twist. You will find a healthy dose of drama, with the main character Wing’s brother being in a coma after a car accident he was to blame for. There will be romance scenes as well, which can be distracting, but gladly at least did not include a love triangle. But the main element of Wing Jones, besides showing how they have to live with the aftermath of the accident, is running. I just love how important running is in this story and how Wing uses this newly found talent to try to move on and make a life for herself.

3. The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter by Julia Drosten (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 31/03
I really wanted to like this one and I still think the plot itself has a lot of potential. The worldbuilding and descriptions of the era and setting are thorough and it shows the background of The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter was very well researched. Sadly, I’m still on the fence about this one, as I didn’t manage to enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Part of the problem was the tone and writing style as well as the fact the story didn’t really flow… Which made it hard to properly connect to the story. The setting is fascinating though as well as the time period the story is set in with its consequences of the British invasion.

4. Salt To The Sea by Ruta Sepetys (4/5 stars) REVIEW 08/04
I have a weak spot for WWII historical fiction in general and I hadn’t heard about the Wilhelm Gustloff incident before, so that was a double bonus for me. It truly shows in the little details just how well researched this novel is and the descriptions made it feel as if you were there yourself along with the characters.  I admit it took me a while to get used to the multiple POVs and remembering who is who, which slowed down the pace inicially, but each different character and POV does show a different view on the situation and add something to the story.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I have two pending ARCs lined up next. The first, Jilliand by Clare Gutierrez, I’m super excited about since it’s a historical fiction read about vikings that made me think of the TV show Vikings immediately (which is a good thing, since it’s one of my favorites!). I’m looking forward to A Secondhand Life by Pamela Crane as well since the blurb sounds brilliant. And I’m superhappy to be finally starting with the Kay Hunter series! I will definitely be starting with Scared To Death by Rachel Amphlett ASAP. My latest TBR jar pick is still Summer Of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider.


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WWW Wednesdays #168 – March 21st

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I was reading Wing Jones by Katherine Webber and I love the biracial characters and running element so far. And the lioness and the dragon. BUT. My request of the newest Erika Foster just came through, so I will be dropping everything to read Deadly Secrets by Robert Bryndza instead. The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter by Julia Drosten will have to wait for a little while longer!

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult (2/5 stars) REVIEW 23/03
Trust me, I’m still shocked about this rating and reaction I had to My Sister’s Keeper, especially since I’ve read and enjoyed several of Jodi Picoult‘s other novels in the past. I fully expected to add this title to that list, but unfortunately it didn’t turn out to be the reading experience I was hoping for. More about these unexpected negative feelings in my review…

2. Cocktails And Dreams by A.L. Michael (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 29/03
I absolutely adored this story! I was in desperate need of something fun and entertaining to read and this book worked like magic. I had so much fun reading Cocktails And Dreams, and this is coming from someone who is normally allergic to romance… So if you like the genre, you will have a blast while reading this one.

3. The Girl With No Name by Lisa Regan (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 25/03
If you like your thrillers fast, intense and full of action, you will most likely enjoy The Girl With No Name. You won’t find a boring minute as you are reading this detective thriller, and even though I had my doubts about the credibility of it all, I still very much enjoyed reading it. Entertaining and fast-paced, this thriller will bring you along a very intense hunt as they are trying to discover the truth and find the missing persons in time. The ending felt a bit too neat, but it does show promising signs for the next book. I’m definitely curious about both what will happen next and about Josie Quinn’s past!

4. The Silent Kookaburra by Liza Perrat (3/5 stars) REVIEW 26/03
A big part of the problem here is me, and not the book itself. The writing is wonderful and I just loved the incorporation of many Australian elements that made the story feel authentic. From the slang to the beautiful descriptions of the plants and animals… It really helped setting the right atmosphere. This is more of a family drama than the psychological thriller I was expecting, but that was not the problem here. The Silent Kookaburra has an element I just couldn’t stomach and it made it really hard for me to keep reading. What element? One of the characters is a pedophile, and there are quite some scenes where a trigger warning should have been in place and reading about what he was doing seriously made me feel sick. I’m not saying it is badly described and if you are not bothered by reading about a pedophile at work, you will probably find this story fascinating. But I was mostly disgusted by it all and I don’t think I would have read it if I would have realized beforehand a pedophile character had such a big role in this story. Like I said, this feeling is highly personal and has nothing to do with the quality of the story or the writing itself. More in my review…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

As part of the whole ‘trying to empty my NG shelf goal’, I need to read The Good Twin by Marti Green next… As well as The Letter For The King by Tonke Dragt, which is going to be my first MG read this year and one I’m really excited about. I also want to finally read Salt To The Sea by Ruta Sepetys, especially since I’ve been posponing it for way too long already. My newest TBR jar pick is still Summer Of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider, which is quite ironic given the fact that Summer is now officially over down here. xD


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Teaser Tuesdays #170 – March 20th: The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter

TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme hosted at The Purple Booker. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

So yesterday was my birthday, and to help me forget I am no longer in my twenties, I decided to start a read with a setting/time period that is definitely way older than me. 😉 I’ve been meaning to pick up this historical fiction read for a while now, so I’m looking forward to finally do so. The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter by Julia Drosten it is!

My teaser (17%):

“Jeeva entered a little reception salon, then stopped dead in his tracks. All the precious furnishings, rugs, vases, and statues had vanished.”

What are you reading right now?


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WWW Wednesdays #167 – March 14th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, but it’s not the reading experience I was hoping for. I’m not saying the writing is bad, but the topic itself is making me very very angry and I think I would never have read it if I would have known exactly what this book was about. People might be offended by this, but I’m totally on Anna’s side here. She should NOT be treated as a walking human donor bank and just being pressured giving up everything and going through all those treatments just because her parents say so… It should be her choice and her choice alone. Honestly, the whole reason they had her in the first place makes me sick. I’ll finish it just to see how the second half of the book will go, but it’s not going to be a good rating for me.

I kind of want to pick up The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter by Julia Drosten instead and read something different… Although I might need something light and fluffy to calm me down first before I do.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Art Of Fear by Pamela Crane (3/5 stars) REVIEW
I had really high hopes for The Art Of Fear, especially after such an explosive and dark beginning. But sadly I was never able to warm up to the characters, and the multiple POVs and flashbacks slowed down the pace considerably and didn’t help keeping the tension. Like I said before, The Art Of Fear is by no means a bad read, but I don’t think it lived up to expectations either. There is a lot of potential though, and I did like the writing style. Graffiti Palace had all the potential to blow me away, but instead I was left struggling and feeling confused about it all.

2. Graffiti Palace by A.G. Lombardo (DNF at 49%, 0/5 stars) REVIEW
I’ve tried several times over the last two weeks to start reading Graffiti Palace, but unfortunately I have been struggling with it right from the very first page. The main thing that stood out for me was the writing style, which simply wasn’t for me. It felt confusing, chaotic, haltering… And it simply made it hard to make sense of it all. Some might call it literary fiction, colorful and exuberant prose, but the sad hard facts are that I personally found it a constant struggle to reach the end of each page.

3. Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 23/03
As soon as I started reading Wink Poppy Midnight, I was blown away by the writing style. So so beautiful, mysterious and intriguing! The writing style is by far what stood out most for me in this book and it’s the only reason I’m giving this story the benefit of the doubt. Why the low rating, would you ask? I’m keeping things simple and give one main reason: Poppy. I understand we are not supposed to like her in the first place, but I absolutely utterly despised her character. This extremely negative feeling for Poppy ruined the reading experience for me and made it really hard to just forget about her and enjoy the other chapters.

4. The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 18/03
Powerful, inspiring, infuriating, heartbreaking, but also full of hope and forgiveness. The Sun Does Shine shows us how racial discrimination and prejudice helped send an innocent man to death row and keep him there for thirty years despite solid proof of his innocence. The pure injustice of it all makes you want to scream, but both his case and experience is very well documented in this memoir and makes for a painful, but inspiring, intriguing and very powerful read. I’m truly impressed by his views on life and his ability to be able to forgive the unforgivable. Highly recommended!

5. The Child Next Door by Shalini Boland (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 19/03 
The Child Next Door is psychological thriller at its best. Just the right amount of tension, a rich plot and a healthy dose of twists and false leads, but also well rounded characters and a pace that is just right. To top things off, the writing style will make you want to keep on reading and you will have a hard time letting go. I didn’t see the ending coming at all, as it kind of came out of nowhere, but it was shocking as well. And like I said before, that final reveal left me both speechless and wanting for more. Recommended!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I really need to read The Silent Kookaburra by Liza Perrat, especially since I should have read it months ago… Sorry! I also want to read The Good Twin by Marti Green since it sounds so good. I might go for something different and read Wing Jones by Katherine Webber first though… And I have a new TBR jar pick: Summer Of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider. I haven’t been reading much summery books this Summer, so I might just pick this one up before the season officially ends down here!


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WWW Wednesdays #166 – March 7th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’ve recently started reading Graffiti Palace by A.G. Lombardo, another ARC that is scheduled to be published soon. It’s still really early days, so we’ll see how things go with that one… And I’m also starting The Art Of Fear by Pamela Crane, both because I’m in the mood for a thriller and I’m trying to clean out my NG shelf before our trip. Fingers crossed I’ll enjoy both!

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. All Things Bright And Strange by James Markert (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW
When I started reading All Things Bright And Strange, I actually thought I was going to enjoy it even better than What Blooms From Dust. Between the WWI veteran element and grumpy Ellsworth himself, it had all the signs of becoming a true winner… I mean, I even compared Ellsworth to one of my all time favorite characters Ove (A Man Called Ove). These feelings stayed for a long time, but slowly something started to irk me. I’m not a fan of a high dose of religious elements in a story, especially when it starts to sound like preaching. And there just was too much of it in All Things Bright And Strange… Especially in the second half. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but I would have liked to see a label calling it Christian fiction. The writing is wonderful though with lots of magical descriptions and a well developed historical setting.

2. The Last Star by Rick Yancey (2/5 stars) REVIEW 09/03
I was warned about this one by various bloggers, even though who unlike me did enjoy the first two books. Unfortunately, they turned out to be right. From the religious introduction, to the chaotic POV changes, the icky romance scenes and Cassie being her annoying self… I definitely didn’t have a great time reading this one. But I guess at least I was able to cross off another series right?

3. My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
My Sweet Friend is the perfect example of a novella done right. With a well developed plot with interesting and fleshed out characters and a writing that simply flows it’s hard not to like this story. The manipulation element is incorporated in a way that feels completely natural and instead of it being forced on you, it shows up gradually. The switching back and forward between Rosie and Alexa helped set the right atmosphere as well as show the different sides of the effects of a manipulative relationship. The story will also have some surprises in store for you! Definitely recommended.

4. No Safe Place by Patricia Gibney (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 22/03
If you are looking for a well written, fast-paced and intense detective thriller series with a consistent quality and complex and well developed plots, Detective Lottie Parker will be a perfect fit for you. No Safe Place has another intense and complex investigation with many layers and twists to keep you guessing and entertained. I had my guesses, but didn’t find out the full truth until the very end and I was wrong in many occasions. I just love it when a story is able to mislead me! No Safe Place was another excellent detective thriller and I will already be looking forward to the next book.

5. Lies That Bind by Diana Rodriguez Wallach (3,5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 15/03 
I read and enjoyed the first book of the series last month, and now it was time for me to read the sequel for the blog tour. It took me a bit longer than expected to get into the sequel, but I guess that was because the first half was used to create a base the rest of the story will be able to stand on. I wasn’t a fan of the high dose of drama, but the final part returned to the default action-packed and superspeed pace I had been getting used to in book one. And there is no doubt that the ending left me wanting for more.

6. With Malice by Eileen Cook (4/5 stars) REVIEW 09/03
I picked this one on a whim after seeing it mentioned somewhere. I had my doubts since I’ve seen mixed reviews out there, but in this case I think having let the hype die down has worked it its advantage. Because somehow I really enjoyed reading this one. I’m a sucker for a good amnesia angle plot and this one definitely ticked all the right boxes. Amnesia and aphasia played a big role in the story, and I liked how the author not only used it to keep us guessing about what happened, but also showed how it was like for the main character not to remember everything. Interesting ending as well!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Like I said before, I’m trying to clean out my NG shelf as much as I can before I start my trip, so the ARCs The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton and The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter by Julia Drosten are next. A memoir and a historical fiction read; I’ll be looking forward to them! I also want to read My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult soon, although I’m waiting until I’m in the mood for a tearjerker before I do. 😉 My latest TBR jar pick is still Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke. I was going to pick it up earlier this week, but then I saw With Malice and I randomly picked up that one instead haha.


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