SPFBO 9 Finalist review: Daughter of the Beast by E C Greaves

SPFBO 9: Daughter of the Beast by E C Greaves

Welcome to the Final stage of SPFBO 9! As you know, the 10 blogs all picked their champion who advanced into the finals, including ourselves. Check out our SPFBO 9 page for more info! SPFBO 9 ends on April 30th, and so we’ll post our finalist reviews every two weeks or so until then.

Our 9th and last SPFBO 9 finalist review is for Daughter of the Beast by E C Greaves. The order of the reviews within a post will be in alphabetical order.

A quick reminder about how we are proceeding in the Finals: our judges had the freedom to opt out of reading any of the books due to personal interest, time restrictions, unforeseen life events, etc. Our aim is to have at least 4 reviews/scores for each finalist.

Both in the Semi-Final and Final stages we’ll have a DNF rule in place: if a judge reads a book (either semi-finalist or finalist if they didn’t opt out beforehand), they have to read at least 25% of it. If they decide to DNF between 25%-50% they’ll have to give a score but can opt out of writing a review, and if they DNF after 50% (or not) then also have to score AND write a review.

For Daughter of the Beast we have 4 reviews and 4 scores for your reading pleasures.

So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at our 9th and last finalist!

Table of Contents

About the Book
Series:The Vyshivka Trilogy #1
Genre:Fantasy, Coming of Age, Dark Fantasy
Publisher:self-published
Date of Publishing:March 4, 2022
Book Blurb
Daughter of the Beast by E C Greaves

When her sleepy village is raided by the Vulkari, the fearsome warrior women of the Ancient Wilds, only Zyntael Fairwinter is taken.

Claimed as a daughter by their infamous matriarch, Zyntael is trained to hunt, to fight, and to kill—all for a purpose, which remains ever out of her grasp.

In the company of their unruly young, she might find sisterhood. In their unique customs and beliefs, she might find beauty. And in the violence of their raids, she might even find glory.

But it is the reason for her capture that Zyntael truly seeks. It is a truth that must be earned from the very Spirits of the dead; a future paid for in the blood of those Zyntael once called her own. It is a purpose that promises the liberation of not just she, but of all the Ancient Wilds, from an evil far greater than any marauding warrior women.

Warrior or no, however, the Vulkari are not like other women. The Vulkari are monsters.

And sometimes, only the truly monstrous have what it takes to save the world.

Steeped in Slavic Myth, and appealing to adult and young adult readers alike, Daughter of the Beast is a rich and unique fantasy coming-of-age story. It is the first in an exciting debut trilogy by E C Greaves, which blends action and adventure, with themes of belonging, identity, destiny, and a girl’s place in a harsh and uncaring world—built by men, and built for men.

Review

Jen

Read: 100%

This was my second book based on Slavic myth that I’ve read recently and the cool thing about it is the tone, story, and lore could not have felt any more different from Noble’s Dagger in the Winds (my previous read).
 
I wasn’t sure about this one at first. It felt like it was going to be young, and it’s rare I read stories where the characters are all non-humans. It just isn’t something I lean towards. But this story has a nice style to the narrative and grew as it went in a true coming-of-age kind of feel.

Daughter of the Beast is told in six stitches, which is a neat way of presenting it in parts while staying true to the lore. Each stitch shows us the important times of Zyntael’s life, from her capture and learning to survive in her new surroundings to her growth into a young warrior and acceptance of her new life while finding a place for herself among the Vulkar.

Because Daughter of the Beast is told through Zyntael’s POV, a lot of the world building, at first, is through conversation with the people around her.  I enjoyed this way of world building; it gave it a bit of a slice-of-life feel, which suited it very well. It was light and it also helped that Zyntael has a great voice! She’s plucky, curious, and funny and I just enjoyed her at all times. For that reason, I felt this read very quickly with just a few up and down moments in pacing, which probably were mostly scenes I wasn’t as interested in.  

I also enjoyed that instead of growing up and wanting revenge on her captors it became a story of acceptance, of finding your place, a new life and friends, family, etc. Sometimes it’s just nice to see a character with a great outlook learning to roll with what life throws at them.

Daughter of the Beast was a great little feel-good story. I enjoyed this one a lot.

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Liis

Read: 100%

Not only did E.C. Greaves undertake a huge risk writing a coming-of-age story from a female perspective, he also twisted the common conception that females are naturally caring, soft and harmless by default by making the Vulkari, the savage raiders, the ruling gender of the Vulkari, females. Vulkari come off the page as dog-like beings. Scraggy, shaggy kind of mutts who are rowdy, loud, murderous and cruel. Females are the ones that go raiding, the ones that live on the road, covered in dirt. This was a clever idea by Greaves. It challenges how we generally tend to see the female sex and their role in society at large.

Zyntael Fairwinter is a young girl at the start of the story, and she gets taken by the very Vulkari. At the start of her capture, she suffers from terrible abuse from the Vulkari leader and slowly, Zyntael finds that she is becoming one of them, one of the sisters, fighting and raiding with them, living their life with the traditions they hold. This could be reaching, unbelievable, hard to accept. But, when I think back to how Zyntael herself was portrayed to act towards her childhood friend, a boy, I think she had a bit of a mean streak in her all her life. A tiny mean streak. But every spark can be turned into an inferno when given the right amount of oxygen. I wonder if her tiny mean streak helped her adapt to the life on the road with the Vulkari, to overcome the ill-treatment, to live like them, to become a warrior. Or, it’s possible the motivations behind our main character actions are more psychological, in which case an additional layer of depth can be applied to the novel.

The plot of Daughter of the Beast is a good introduction, a solid start to a trilogy. It has set the scene, it has firmly solidified the various pieces in the game and sets up the reader to expect big things from the sequel. That said, there was also something big enough happening in this volume – because the Vulkari leader also had a vision, and Zyntael found herself a pawn in the midst. I am very curious to find out how this trilogy continues.

Greaves writes impressive descriptions. But I expected nothing less, because people who are talented with art, can somehow transfer their creativity with words, too. In that sense, I found the book enjoyable to read. In summary, Daughter of the Beast is a rather unique tale and it had plenty of action to keep me engaged. Most importantly, I think the story will only keep getting stronger and I intend to continue with the trilogy.

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Paul

Read: 100%

Daughter of the Beast is a dark coming-of-age story that straddles the line between YA and adult fantasy. In it, our MC, Zyntael, is captured by the fearsome and vicious Vulkari and raised as one of their own, as she is believed to be integral to a mysterious prophecy.

Daughter of the Beast stands out for its unique world-building, a completely secondary world without humans. Instead, the races we encounter are all inspired by Slavic myths and legends. While some might be familiar, such as the hobgoblins and brownies, the Vulkari are an intriguing wolf-like people with a hint of the Klingon in their approach to war and violence.

While I did enjoy the wider strokes of the world-building, as it’s always enjoyable to read books suffused with real-world cultural lore, the overall story didn’t ever capture me. 

Narratively, Zyntael’s voice was fairly distant, and as a character, she always felt an arms-length away. Given that she is the MC and the entire story is told from her perspective, it never truly drew me in, and there wasn’t an emotional connection to her plight or story. This, coupled with a somewhat light and meandering plot interspersed with a handful of jarring time jumps, made for a read that I couldn’t settle into.

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Timy

Read: 52%

Another SPFBO season came to an end, and here comes my last review. I was hoping to finish on a high note, but that wasn’t meant to happen. Don’t get me wrong, Daughter of the Beast is not a bad book, it just wasn’t for me.

My main issue with this book is that I felt absolutely no connection to any of the characters, or the plot, or anything, really. Up to the 52% mark where I eventually stopped, nothing much happens, or rather, things just happen to Zyntael, and she has no agency whatsoever. Now, I get it, she is a young girl, and she has to go with the flow to survive, but I couldn’t get invested in her emotionally. Maybe if she stayed in the stronghold with the goblins, so we could just see her grow or something. I was starting to become interested, and then suddenly she was taken away and we were on the road again. The 52% mark was also the place where I started to feel like Daughter of the Beast was a story about Stockholm Syndrome.

I found the worldbuilding fascinating though. I liked that there were no human characters and how Greaves got his inspiration from East-European folklore. I would have liked to learn more about the world and spend some more time discovering the different creatures and their culture, but that’s just a personal preference.

I’m cutting this review short as the others pretty much said everything is to be said. It wasn’t up my alley, but if you are looking for a darker coming-to-age story that’s infused with folklore, then you will enjoy Daughter of the Beast.

Our Judgement
Team Queen's Book Asylum's scores for Daughter of the Beast by E C Greaves

Our score for Daughter of the Beast by E C Greaves:

Score 7/10

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