Wingbound by Heather Trim
Self-publishing on March 23, 2018
Ledger is supposed to fear and despise the Sky People of Ellery, but then he meets an Ellerian girl, named Alouette and does the wrong thing. With his village at war with the winged people who live on a floating island that circles their world, he befriends her.
In Ledger’s seventeenth harvest, Ellery returns empty. The Sky People are gone, Alouette is missing, and Ledger must make a difficult choice — continue life as usual in the blacksmith workshop or board the island against the elder’s wishes and find her.
Look, I was hooked from the mention of a fantasy world orbited by a mysterious floating island inhabited by winged strangers. Heather Trim has some serious world-building chops – she deftly sketches sprawling castles and desolate oceans in a soft, simplistic fairy-tale writing style, creating an atmosphere that felt like an old fable, or something deserving of watercolor illustrations.
Unfortunately, the people in those settings didn’t enthrall me quite as much. At the beginning, I really liked Ledger. He’s a compassionate, resourceful dreamer that doesn’t fit in, and his struggle between upholding tradition and doing the right thing was super endearing. But as the story progressed, his character development stalled. Instead of facing the new obstacles in front of him and rising above his flaws, he seemed to lose agency as time went on – by the climax, he struck me as rather whiny. I was far more interested in the supporting cast. Hollis, in particular: the wild and sometimes immature spitfire who just wants to be closer to Ledger. I loved Kava, the wise-beyond-her-years healer that takes it upon herself to wrangle the unruly group of adventurers. I would have loved to see the story unfold from their points of view. Ledger did a great job getting them all into trouble, but when it came time to get back out, I don’t think he added all that much.
In addition, there are a few dozen punctuation errors scattered through the book – not terribly many, but enough that I think another pass by a proofreader would be helpful.
To sum this all up, your mileage may vary. Wingbound is a great concept done fairly well, and I still think it’s worth a read if you’re prepared to roll your eyes at the leading man every once in a while.