I've got to say, this book surprised me in the end. I was having a hard time of really getting into it at first--and maybe that's just me--but after a while things seemed to finally pick up when men from the human world began to be involved. Which is crazy, right? Normally you want anything but people from the normal world to get focused on in a story that's supposedly fantastic. But I think that's what made this book actually bearable for me at the end.
It's not that the story itself is lacking. The story is based off of the actual Irish tale of Sive--or at least one of its interpretations--and as far as the story goes, it's pretty entertaining, as most things that have stood the test of time usually are. I feel that where this book was lacking for me was in the execution department. The writing was not bad, and it wasn't hard to get used to the style that the author took either. You could pick up on it after a couple of pages without any confusion. But I feel that the pacing was awkward at some times, and the method of time-skipping was always a bit abrupt. Time skips happened within the same chapter multiple times. That's just how the book was written. Sometimes there were a few paragraphs of italicized text that were various bits of commentary from different characters in the book as they looked back on things that happened at that point in the story. It bridged sections and made some time skips easier to pass into; made them run more smoothly. But in many cases you didn't have those bridges there. Were you able to get used to it for the most part after a while? Yeah, you were. It wasn't hard, but it threw off the otherwise natural rhythm a story might have.
Now in terms of characters, I actually think that they were done well. The focus wasn't very in depth because the story skipped between characters much more than it ever focused solely on one--that goes for our main character and what the book is named after too. Actually, I really liked all the characters. It's one of those stories where the character development was played out very well, considering how the tale itself was formatted to play out. So I have a lot of respect for the characters there. In fact, I liked most of them! Even the villain was a fair villain--for his purposes. (Though I totally called him out on that one lackluster move he made with trying to marry Sive's half-sister. Definitely could have been done better on his part if he wanted to win. BUT ANYWAY~)
I must say that I like the research that the author put into this book, and I even enjoyed the parts at the end of the story where she had a bunch of the terminology and names used throughout the story there with definitions and pronunciations. MAN was I reading SOME of those words wrong if I didn't have that guide! It's really nice to have it to look back on, and really helps to bring out the culture that you can see clearly throughout the book. It made a very nice impression on me, as someone who likes to know these details. Plus, she even gave a quick summary of how the actual Legend of Sive went, which was a really nice thing to note. And while it showed where the author differed or added on to the story, for the most part I was pleasantly surprised with how accurate her book was to the legend itself. It's always nice to see an author expand on what already exists and keep characters and tales true to their origins! Major plus for Holly Bennett on that point!
On the shapeshifter point of research, it addressed a couple of things that were interesting to mull over, but weren't necessarily new to me. And the actual issues of being a shapeshifter weren't the focal point of the book at all. It was more a side noted ability, like magic is in most tales. There were perhaps a line or two of advice at the very beginning that I took to heart as something to definitely keep note of, but other than that, not much to comment on.
Overall, I thought it a pleasant read and a nice way to pass the time. It's one of those books that I would read once and say, "Oh, what a nice story!" but I wouldn't really invest my time into buying. I'd advise you to library this one if you can. If it ends up being more significant or loved by you, then by all means! Pursue buying it! But generally, it's a quaint book and a tale that's a pleasure to read, especially towards the latter half of the tale. If you feel curious, go for it. But don't feel like you need to rush out and get this one any time soon. It's a book to pass the time, as opposed to one that grips your heart for a long duration afterwards. While lovely, it is not lasting. Either way, I hope you enjoy it should you come by it!