DNF: Nameless

Author: Lili St. Crow
Series: Tales of Beauty and Madness #1
Publication Date: April 4, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 328 (ARC)
Source: Trade
When Camille was six years old, she was discovered alone in the snow by Enrico Vultusino, godfather of the Seven—the powerful Families that rule magic-ridden New Haven. Papa Vultusino adopted the mute, scarred child, naming her after his dead wife and raising her in luxury on Haven Hill alongside his own son, Nico.

Now Cami is turning sixteen. She’s no longer mute, though she keeps her faded scars hidden under her school uniform, and though she opens up only to her two best friends, Ruby and Ellie, and to Nico, who has become more than a brother to her. But even though Cami is a pampered Vultusino heiress, she knows that she is not really Family. Unlike them, she is a mortal with a past that lies buried in trauma. And it’s not until she meets the mysterious Tor, who reveals scars of his own, that Cami begins to uncover the secrets of her birth…to find out where she comes from and why her past is threatening her now.

New York Times bestselling author Lili St. Crow thrilled legions of fans with her dark paranormal series Strange Angels. Now she has crafted an evocative update of Snow White, set in a vividly imagined world and populated by unforgettable new characters.
~*~DNF Introduction~*~

I used to be one of those people that refused to DNF books. If I spent money on it or invested any of my time into it, I would push through it to the best of my ability unless the first chapter is so terrible that I just couldn't deal with continuing on. However, it's become obvious to me that you can't like them all. While some books you can struggle through and give a two star rating, you don't have to struggle through others. This book is one I got through a trade, I'm not obligated to review it, thus I'm not going to because I am struggling with it. If I bother to write what I am now referring to as a "DNF REVIEW" it means that I saw something in this book that interested me enough to make me slightly regret DNF'ing it. It means that I'm going to keep it on my shelves and try to go back to it in the future, though I am in no hurry to do so. Thus, for now, all DNF books will receive a disclaimer about where I left off so that everyone knows how much of the book I am reviewing. I don't know what the reaction to this will be, but I feel like I should get my thoughts out about such a thing and keep them on record if I ever do decide to go back to this. So, this is a record of my reflections on the causes of choosing to DNF, nothing more. This blog is here to help me maintain my thoughts on books, and it's going to do that for those I struggle greatly with as well.

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

Disclaimer: This is not a review of the entire book. I decided to DNF on page 102, so you are about to read my thoughts about the portion of the book I read not as a review, but as a record-keeper if I ever decide to come back to this.

I was really looking forward to this one, so I was slightly upset once I began reading it. I've never read anything by Lili St. Crow before so I don't know if this was just a bad book for an amazing author or if her writing is normally like this. There are several reasons why I chose to DNF and I want to explain them now.

The world-building.
I was about a third of the way into this book and I still didn't fully understand this world. There were so many aspects to this world and so many creatures that I just couldn't grasp anything. There's this thing called the Waste which you don't want to go into, but faeries can. Then there's the Family of Seven which is supposed to be super powerful and feared, but they're like vampires from what I've gotten, though they have this ritual called Borrowing that I don't understand yet. And then normal people have Potential that shines through in charms and these people can do crazy things when they're emotional, but when they hit puberty they can become a Twist which is an evil person of some sort. And there are jacks who are creatures born with deformities like feathers and scales, if I'm grasping that correctly. There was some sort of altered history after WWII and that's pretty much all I got. Oh, and scarecrows and minotaurs are real in this world as well, but minotaurs form from extremely Twisted humans or something of the sort. I'm really confused and this entire little paragraph is me explaining what I did grasp thus far, which is why I'm frustrated because a third into the book I can't tell you, flat-out, about anything because I'm not sure of anything.

The characters.
I didn't really feel a connection to any of the characters. We're introduced to Cami who is the main character and she immediately felt flat to me. I didn't connect to her emotionally, nor did I really have a desire to because I felt as if the pity card was constantly played with her stutter, the nightmares from her past, and her constant talk about hiding her scars. The insecurities were overplayed. We meet her two friends, Ellie and Ruby early on as well. Ruby's supposedly this really gorgeous girl that every guy wants to get with and she loves shopping, so her shallowness did not appeal to me. Ellie has an evil step-mom who likes to ground her and she's poor and I think she is also physically abused, so Cami often buys her a lot of things with her extra money. We met the man and leader of the Seven that adopted Cami and I happen to like him. He's pretty much an ailing Italian mobster, and I like characters like that. We also meet his son and future heir, Nico. Nico is really twisted and self-destructive, which I didn't mind initially. He likes to fight, disobeys his parents on purpose only to get beaten later, and even took a knife to everything in his bedroom because he likes to destroy things. It's now obvious that he's really just a self-serving rich brat that likes to make people's lives difficult.

The "re-telling."
Re-tellings are re-tellings, they're not supposed to stick to the tale 100% though some try to. I understand that, but I saw no remnants of Snow White in this besides artificial things. Cami's lips were red and she had big blue eyes that stood out from her glossy black hair that nobody else in this written world had. Randomly, she would have thoughts about a specific apple that made her weak in the knees. Hearts, as in human hearts, were mentioned oddly and some guy even said she ate a heart as a child before she was found and adopted by the Seven. That's pretty much it. When I first saw the name of the Seven families I thought they would be her dwarves, but this girl is no Snow White. She's not commanding, she's slightly pitiful, and these Seven are extremely powerful dark families dealing in something like a magical mafia. They aren't dwarves. Where are the dwarves? I'm just confused.

The initial romance.
 So, I saved the biggest reason of all that I chose to DNF for last. The synopsis above hints that there may be a romance in the book later on with Tor, but a third in we've only just met him to learn that Cami is fascinated by him because she thinks he's hot and he tends to always look up whenever he senses she's near. It's a little cliche if you ask me. But there's some type of romance before them and that would be between Cami and Nico. There is no kissing, no declarations of love, but it's hinted that they are more than family and they're too close to be just brother and sister. I initially got the incestual vibes very early on in the story and continued on hoping I was wrong, but I reached a point in the story that had me rolling my eyes and I finally decided I was done. Here's an excerpt taken from page 101 - 102 of my ARC after Cami woke the house up from having a nightmare and Nico calmed her down.

Another laugh, this on more genuine. "Good. Move over."
The covers were a mess. And the cloth sticking to her skin was clammy, like the touch of cold fingers. Cami shook, stripping her sodden tank top off while he was punching the pillows into submission. When he settled with a sign onto his back and slid close enough to put her head on his shoulder, he stiffened.
"Whoa." But his arm didn't pause, he hugged her close and she realized they weren't kids anymore just as her entire body turned into one of Marya's crackling fires.
"S-sor-r-r--" Oh, damn it.
"It's okay. Shush." He relaxed all at once. "Nothing I haven't seen before, jeez. Marya used to put us in the tub together."
Well, yeah. But that was years ago. "Th-they kn-know y-you're u-u-u up h-here." The stutter got worse when she tried to whisper, now. Stupid thing, her tongue in revolt.
"What, you think I'm bad for your reputation?" But there wasn't any bite to the words. He sounded, of all things, amused. "Better get used to it."

...WHAT! She took her shirt off without realizing it in front of her brother. Like, you can't not be conscious of doing that. And he doesn't freak out or anything, says he's seen it all before. But you're teenagers now, not little kids sharing a bath. And she relaxed at that. It just bugged me out and made me slightly uncomfortable, like such a thing was not necessary to the progression of the story or realistic at all. I read FALLING KINGDOMS which also has incest in it, but the entire story the character is fighting himself because he knows he has wrong feelings which made it almost appear in a tasteful manner. This almost seems tasteless in comparison. I don't mind darkness in novels, but this excerpt was weird to me and made me take note of the page and close the book. I no longer want to read anymore of this awkward brother/sister romance/relationship/closeness even if one is adopted.

All in all, I know many people who have enjoyed this one. Having gotten over an illness that has kept me from reading for an entire week, I don't want to read books that don't impress me anymore. I had troubles explained above, but the romance was what really did it in for me. The incest in this novel was odd and it's not something that I wanted to continue reading because I felt it was done in a strange manner. I think this book and I just weren't meant to be because many others were able to move past something that I wasn't able to and found this book to be an overall enjoyable read.



  1. That's a total bummer that this one didn't work for you. It sounded so good, but I think it would drive me crazy too...

  2. Shame that you couldn't finish this one, Lili. I haven't heard many good things about the author, so I've been wary of picking it up, but the reasons you listed above confirm it for me. Thanks for sharing!