Author: Jen Castleberry
Published: Parliament House, 2017
A WIld and Unremarkable Thing
A Wild and Unremarkable Thing is truly a remarkable story. My biggest fear while reading was that the book would not be long enough. And it wasn’t!
We follow Cody/Cayda, who has been trained by her father for the past fifteen years to be able to kill a Fire Scale; one of the dragons that come out every fifteenth year to mate. She has lived her life like a boy for just as long, because no girl could ever hope to claim the winning prize for slaying a Fire Scale.
The time finally comes for Cody/Cayda to begin her journey. Her father, who has been quite hard on her, lies injured at home, so she has to go alone. On her way to the town of Yurka she meets Penn, who accompanies her.
Meanwhile we also follow Fares, the crown prince, and Wolfe, his best friend, who decides that he will become a champion and slay a Fire Scale.
The story is an incredible page-turner and from the moment you turn the first page you will have entered the spectacular world of A Wild and Unremarkable Thing, where you will find yourself until you turn the very last page.
I really found this story enthralling and I love the way Castleberry has woven her sentences together. It creates a dynamic read and keeps the story fast paced. Moreover, I enjoyed the multiple point of views that add a certain “layeredness” to the story, since we follow different people’s thoughts and actions.
Cody/Cayda is very easily loved and really brings a lot of character to the story. I hope there will be more to read about her some day. Despite being raised as a boy for the majority of her life, it seems that deep down she has no doubt that she is a girl, but she also knows that she will live her entire life as a boy/man if it means her family will be saved from poverty and her sisters can refrain from selling themselves to the men in town.
Penn is a mysterious character, but also easily liked. He is beyond fascinated with Cody/Cayda and it is very interesting to see the impact she has on him. Moreover, it is amazing to see his character unfold.
Wolfe is a silly character, but I really liked him too! He is the stereotypical “academic”, who doesn’t see that the world is different from how it seems to be in the books he always reads. He is persistent in his decision to become a champion even when his friends laugh at him. He doesn’t take any advice from others, but fully believes that the answer is in his book. Despite his stubborness, which could at times really annoy me, I really enjoyed his passages. Maybe this has partly to do with Fares, his friend, who was such a goof.
The characters were often quite superficial and normally that would bother me, but A Wild and Unremarkable Thing has this “fairytale”-like sense, which made it completely okay. I think.
My only complaint is that the book ended when it did. It felt too rushed, and I could have easily read an entire new book about what would happen next.
Should You Read It?
Well, yes. I would very much suggest that you read it if you enjoy a good fairytale or fantasy story. If you enjoy a good laugh while also being quite serious. It isn’t just this magical story about slaying dragons. It is also a powerful story, however slightly underplayed, about gender identity, family and friendship. And it is the story of doing the right thing no matter the costs and a story about proving one’s worth.
Furthermore, Castleberry writes marvelously and the various points of views make the story flow incredibly fast and easy. I loved this story and I will definitely read it again some day!
I sincerely hope this is not the last I will hear from Jen Castleberry!