Once read, can never be unread: Words Once Spoken, a book review

wordsoncespokenWords Once Spoken by Carly Drake*
Harlequin Enterprises Australia, October 1, 2013 (YA / Fantasy)
My rating: The plane was delayed, luggage lost, and museums closed.

Unfortunately, I really did not enjoy this book, with its long line of confusing, vague world building, instant attraction (aka insta-love), too many too-convenient plot elements, and not enough cohesion. I did find somewhat intriguing Evie’s determination to be as independent and self-sufficient as possible, no matter what others thought (more on that later).

I’m not sure how to describe this book, so I’m only going to provide the briefest summary. Evelyn is a young woman who has always defied traditional gender roles. She hunts, rides like a man, and can’t sew, for a few examples. Just before her eighteenth birthday she’s sent to Court to try for the position of lady’s maid to the princess. Right off, she meets a mysterious young man and the prince, both intriguing and handsome. She learns about the fae. And she learns about her past. Then, she embarks on a convoluted journey to find her destiny.

My first impression was one of confusion. I could not determine if the setting was in an alternate England, or if being in England really mattered – the lack of detail and description made it seem like the setting was a fantasy world, but every now and then the author threw in “English” and “Greek and Roman myths” and “Moses” and I got confused all over again. England was an idea that never fully developed, and really only distracted from the story, which would have been just as well-set in a fantasy world. Court has no relation to the English court, and the royals have no connection to the English royal families.

She meets the prince and instantly becomes infatuated with him. There is no romantic tension, no relationship building, just instant attraction. Evie herself should be interesting, given her propensity to ride, fight, hunt, and wear pants. However, I found it difficult to believe that she learned those behaviors on her own, when there were no other examples of women who did these things, and no external characters, events, or relationships that influenced her life choices.

The story is cluttered with supernatural and paranormal creatures, and the relationships and world rules that governed them were convoluted, convenient, and unconvincing. The fae never really come alive as a species that drives the plot and story.

The plot itself was rushed and predictable, except for the additions of new paranormal creatures. There is a constant struggle between too many story elements (the human court/England, the fae, the lycans, the vampires, and more) – and sketchy (as in, sketched in, not fleshed out) world building. Lots has been left out, causing all the disparate elements to be disconnected. Lastly, I found the ending unconvincing and complicated.

Ultimately, this was a very disappointing and difficult read. I wouldn’t recommend it.

*e-Arc provided by NetGalley

Better Reads: (click on any of the following images to be taken to that book’s Goodreads description)

Crown Duel (Crown & Court #1-2)

(Featuring a headstrong, determined, sword-wielding young heroine and fairy-like trees, as well as a great romance and harrowing adventure)

Mairelon the Magician (Mairelon #1)

(A witty tale of a magician and his young ward, and their travels and adventures, with a sweet romance)

The Perilous Gard

(Featuring the old-fashioned Fairy Folk, a young woman in the 16th century, and a spooky castle)

The Blue Sword (Damar #1)

(One of my favorite books ever – featuring a young woman who doesn’t fit in her society, who gets kidnapped and adopted, has adventures, falls in love, and becomes a hero)


  1. I loved The Perilous Gard. I haven’t read any of the others -although The Blue Sword was recommended to me, and I’ve enjoyed other books by Robin McKinley.

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