Author: Lili St. Crow
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling, Paranormal
Series: Tales of Beauty & Madness #1
Published: April 4th, 2013
Source: Borrowed Library
Rating: DNF 27%
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.
Coverlust betrays me again. You know how in reviews, we recommend authors "show, don't tell"? St. Crow has forgotten to do either in Nameless.
Ostensibly a Snow White retelling, Nameless takes place in an exceptionally complicated world that I can't begin to parse, much less correlate to the original story. Taking place in a post-apocolyptic future where a few cities remain, surrounded by Wastes, (which are bad for reasons,), Cami embarks on such interesting future activities as, "attending prep-school in traditional prep-school uniform", and "watching her brother hustle in a billiard hall". Occasionally there is "taking daddy's limo to the mall". Thrilling. Except daddy is a vampire, I'm sorry, member of the Family, who is dying his mortal death to arise as an immortal representative of the Seven Families. Still drinks blood though, although it took me entirely too long to realize that "whiskey and calf" meant calf blood. In addition to the sci-fi and vampire mythoses, every person in the city has Potential, an undefined magical power. But people with Potential and a lot of anger can Twist into...something. And then occasionally Twist even further into minotaurs? Then there are Jacks, who I thought were Twisted, but apparently they're an entirely separate entity that doesn't have enough Potential to Twist, though they all appear to have some sort of physical marking like gray skin? I never did figure out what the kin were. It's a lot you guys.
Oh, and Cinderella and Red Riding Hood are here too.
But I can handle weird world building and shoehorned references to the source material. (Cami is confronted by a strange jack who appears to be made of wood just so later in the story she can be told, "Don't be afraid of the woodman" and readers can go, "OH! Like woodsman from the original!") What I can't handle is the romance. Cami is adopted, yes. But she has no recollection of her life before he adoption. That means, for all intents and purposes, she and Nico have been siblings for her entire life. They talk about playing together, snuggling in a chair during storms, Nico creeping into Cami's bed when she has nightmares. To emphasize their sibling nature and then turn it around, "oh since he went to boarding school, Cami thinks he's hot as fuck and doesn't want to be his little sister anymore, so it's ok." Nope. It's not ok. Not at all. The relationship is creepy and imbalanced even before we consider Cami's human nature and Nico's immortal one.
What's more, the story gives no reason why the characters should have romantic feelings. Cami has zero character traits outside of her stutter. She's not brave or kind or independent. She's not passionate or political or charitable or anything that might make an infinitely older vampire interested in her. She has no hobbies or interests. I can't picture any scene that isn't implicitly on page, because the character doesn't actually exist. Nico is the same. He's rebelling against his place in the family, but there's no suggestion of what he'd rather do or what he studies. He's protective of Cami, but shockingly blasé about the lives of other humans. But this appears to be one of those YAs where people fall in deep, ever-lasting love, because they're both attractive and in the same location. (Caveat of course, I only read 82 pages and I suppose previously unexplored depths could be revealed in the later sections. I mean I doubt it, but it could have happened.)
It's a shame, Nameless has a completely different feel than other Snow White retellings and I wish its gothic promise had been revealed. Instead I felt I'd been dropped in the middle of a series and missed several hundred pages of background and nothing ever got out of first gear.