Lullaby by L. R. W. Lee
Published: January 15th 2018 by Woodgate Publishing
You’ve heard of the Sand Man. Meet his counterpart, the Sand Maiden.
Alissandra thrills to help her human charges make sense of thoughts that need refinement, problems that need solutions, worries that beg for action, and things they should or shouldn’t have said, as she weaves their dreams. She’s been doing it her entire immortal existence. But when the most powerful king in Dream realm sets his sights on her current charge, Prince Kovis Altairn, to exploit him in his quest to conquer Wake realm, Ali has no choice but to flee and pray the sovereign doesn’t hunt her down.
Prince Kovis Altairn, crown prince and the most powerful sorcerer in the Altairn Empire, knows nothing about Dream realm, let alone his sand maiden. So when Ali is discovered naked in his bedroom, how will she convince him of her intentions, as well as the danger?
Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from the author. This in no way influences my opinion.
I was a bit on the fence about reading this book. I wasn’t entirely sure if it sounded like it was going to be my kind of thing, but after discussing it over with a friend, I decided to go for it and applied for ARC when they opened up. Unfortunately, this turned out to be not really my cup of tea and I ended up DNFing it about 30 percent of the way through. I found it to be confusing and slow, as well as problematic in certain areas. I will mention that I absolutely love the cover, however. The cover art was done by Charlie Bowater and it is absolutely stunning!
The problems with this book really start from the very beginning. From the very first page of the book, we are thrust into a commotion, without any real explanation of what is happening or why. The first few pages of the book are extremely confusing and it really set the tone, for me, up until the point that I DNFed. Whilst I usually wouldn’t mind being thrown into action from page 1, I expect some form of world building and explanation to follow up so that I have a full understanding of what is really happening and why; and unfortunately, that wasn’t the case with this book. The book carried on from the events at page 1, but without any real explanation as to what was going on and why. The world building and character development was lacking and it really had a negative impact on me as a reader.
The world building itself (the environment, dream realm, wake realm etc.) was really lacking as well. I couldn’t physically picture the places we were supposed to be because there wasn’t enough description for me. Dream Realm and Wake Realm are mentioned, as well as other places that are pretty far off and not where the characters currently are (but are places with rebellion etc.), but I personally had no real idea where any of these places were in regards to where the characters were and what was really going on and why there was rebellion etc. We know it is happening, but we don’t know why and we don’t really find out, even though we have the POV of one of the Princes. I would have liked to have seen more world building itself, along with more of an idea of what is actually going on as opposed to knowing about it and not knowing why.
Another issue I had with this book was the lack of character development. I never really felt connected to any of the characters because they were never developed further from the confusing beginning. Ali was extremely naive and a complete push over. She never exhibited any signs that she was a princess from the dream realm. From the vague snippets that we get about her dad and the kind of person he was, I was expecting her to be tougher mentally, but was left pretty disappointed on that front. She let herself be pushed around in the Wake Realm as well, even after the events of the beginning of the book.
Prince Kovis was a pretty unlikeable character. He often spoke down to and was relatively condescending toward Ali, despite the way she treated him. He often looked the other way and encouraged torture, and only really got involved when it started to affect him. He never really developed from this point on and stayed a relatively unlikeable character throughout. Personality wise, he fell relatively flat and there wasn’t a particular character trait that made him really stand out in a unique way.
I also found this book to be relatively problematic. This book has sexual assault at the beginning of the book. Usually, I don’t mind books featuring sexual assault, when it is written in the right way, because it’s an issue that is extremely relevant within society today. However, I feel that the way in which the author tackled and represented sexual assault actually perpetuates it, rather than shows it to be what it is – an issue that needs to be dealt with and resolved. There was no real consequences for the people who committed the assault and the psychological issues that victims often face in the aftermath weren’t properly represented either. I felt that Ali brushed it off and seemed to completely forget about it afterward. I will add a spoiler paragraph at the bottom so that I can talk about it openly without spoiling anyone.
Unfortunately, this book was lacking in a lot of different areas and left me with more questions than answers. For me, it was relatively problematic and I was disappointed with the way in which Lee represented sexual assault. I gave this book 1/5 stars
As mentioned above, the way in which Lee represented sexual assault was relatively problematic. The prince himself (not Kovis, his brother) allowed his guards to assault Ali, whilst he stood and looked away. There were no repercussions for Prince Kovis’ brother or the guards themselves. It’s also later revealed in the book that their sister was sexually assaulted, and prince Kovis’ brother claims he would never do/allow that to happen to anyone else… except clearly Ali because she’s an exception? Prince Kovis himself doesn’t even do anything about his brother or his brothers guards because “they’re his brothers’ men”. He claimed to have said to his brother that he should get rid of some guards because of questionable morals, but that he couldn’t force him.
My issue with this situations is that there is no accountability in either the guards, the prince or even Prince Kovis, who finds out about it and does nothing. Sexual assault is a societal issue that is extremely relevant, especially with victim shaming and the celebrities who are coming forward to share their stories. I feel that it is ok to have sexual assault represented within any book, as long as it does the subject justice and is dealt with in the right way. I felt that Lee never really had a reason for using it, and never did the subject and the severity of it justice. As already mentioned, nobody was held accountable and Ali herself brushed it off as of nothing ever happened. A lot of the focus for the beginning of the book was Ali either being sexually assaulted or being forced to strip her clothing. It wasn’t used in a way that brought something to the story, or even as a learning device as it should be, but rather as a filler for something to happen. I personally found it to be problematic and it didn’t sit well with me.