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The Captain s Door begins mysteriously The narrator, age, sex, name, all unknown, is troubled, downright obsessed, by something seemingly trivial a burning torch The style is dreamlike, with vivid details The narrator seldom tries to explain why things are happening About the time that the nature of the Captain s work becomes clear, the narrator makes a choice, and the pace of the book speeds up, so, you have a slow buildup, and a relatively action packed second half, leading to a satisfying conclusion with plenty of room for a sequel I hated that the blurb reveals so much of the plot In fact, it reveals all of the plot In this review, I m going to avoid spoilers, anyway I d recommend that you skip the blurb, or try to forget what you read It s fascinating to see the details meticulously accumulate and create a world so original, so different similar from our own It takes a long time to have any real idea of what is going on, but I enjoyed that Some of the payoffs were huge the realization of the true nature of the Captain s work was sickening The book ended with many mysteries unsolved, everything from the true origin of those powerful artifacts, to the fate of the Captain s sister I m fine with that I m hoping for a sequel I would describe this book as a historical fantasy, with a steampunk feel to it The colonization of Africa and the Americas took a very different turn, in this world I think we re in an alternative 19th century.Unfortunately, there were typos than I d like to see In a book this good, I d like to see the editing perfect They weren t scattered through the book evenly, either It was as though the editor had missed a few pages The book s good enough that I m giving the author a pass.I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. At The Helm Of A Tall Ship Stands Mina Paradis She May Look Young, But Mina S Spent A Lifetime Serving Her Family And Country Now She S Tired, So Tired, Of Following Orders And Watching Her Friends Grow Old And Die While She Never Ages A Day Desperate To Escape The Slow Suffocation Of A Circumscribed Life, Mina Prepares To Break The Terms Of Her Indenture Such Treason Threatens To Propel Her Through An Intensely Personal Struggle To Save Herself, Spare Her Crew, And Face An Adolescence Long Delayed The Captain S Door Opens The Mina Paradis Series With A Unique Exploration Of Obligation And Independence Set In An Alternative Th Century Fans Of Character Driven Fantasy, Like That Of Ursula K Le Guin, Will Appreciate The Slower Pace And Literary Build Mina is a hundred and four year old woman in an eleven year old s body Despite all the years she has sailed as Captain of the Transcendent, she often feels like of a passenger than a leader Appointed with no shipboard experience, Mina is Captain only so that she can fulfill her mother s secret wishes in faraway places.Fed up with being sent from port to port to do morally questionable jobs, Mina decides it is time to distance herself from her powerful mother, even if it means losing eternal life This proves to be a difficult task, because no matter how many evil deeds her mother does, a part of Mina still loves her What makes the story truly interesting is the dynamic between these two women Mina s mother is not only powerful, corrupt and manipulative, she is also driven by a desperate sort of motherly love and will do anything to keep her eleven year old daughter young Forever.read at UndergroundBookReviews dot com It s hard for me to say why this book didn t really work The alternate history setting is interesting, though not as well defined as I would have liked The magic is solely in the form of Things of Power, which interests me, particularly the doors which are portals between two places The main character, Mina, has a door that leads to a private stronghold buried deep somewhere in the mountains, and who doesn t dream of that Houghton s also very good with the seamanship and there s always a good sense of what it s like to be at sea.At the top of what dissatisfied me is the awkward and in some cases poor characterization A lot of what we know about everyone, we know because Mina tells us so, not because we see it in the depiction of these characters Mina s mother and sister are particular victims of this problem her mother is secretary of state and supposedly powerful, but what we see of her is a whiny, weak, uncontrolled woman whose behavior toward her children simply doesn t translate into what a secretary of state needs to be Her sister CharlotteI started out thinking she was developmentally delayed, then that she was a slut, and on page 169 it s confirmed that no, she s just an opium addict Houghton gives attention to Mina s crew, who attain a little individuality, but only Rohad comes across as truly unique.Mina s character isn t that much better She s a 104 year old woman who s trapped in the body of a 10 year old, so presumably she knows how men and women relate to one another and she s got a sister who s been impregnated than once and yet she can t figure out why Rohad wishes she was physically ten years older than she is She s supposed to be this experienced intelligence agent I assume that s what she is and yet a wizened old fisherman gets the better of her I never really warmed to her, and I think that made it hard for me to stay connected to the book.The writing craft is better than average, though I think the structure of the plot suffers because some things are fully explained later than they should be and are insufficiently foreshadowed beforehand And this book really needed another editorial pass, starting with italicizing the ships names Two errors on the first pagenot a good sign There s a lot of potential here, and I see that the author intends this to be the first book in a series a second volume, now that the world and the main character have been established, might be an improvement.I received this review copy through First Reads. I was so excited about this book I thought perhaps it would be like Phillip Pullman s His Dark Materials You have magic, magical artifacts, an alternate version of our world set in a bygone era, portals, adventures on the high seas and a tough little chick at the helm You also have some fascinating potential with symbolism a warped family dynamic between a woman Mrs Paradis and her two daughters, Mina and Charlotte Mrs Paradis is a politically powerful woman who is not afraid to use her sexuality to get what she wants Mina is in charge of a crew of sailors and Charlotte is a pregnant drug addict Then you have the sea itself as a symbol of femininity you have puberty and menstrual blood This could have been a powerful and dark commentary on women, womanhood, mothers and daughters and life giving forces I wish I could tell you these elements all came together into the stunning piece that I had hoped for I really do Alas, despite its very interesting premise, Houghton fails to deliver If I hadn t agreed to do a review on this book, I would ve stopped reading very early on I can t remember when it s taken me so long to slog through a story First and foremost, The Captain s Door is sorely in need of some professional editing It was riddled with grammatical errors which I found very distracting The prose is absolutely torturous In public speaking classes, I have heard that you should tell your audience what you re about to say, then say it, then tell them what you just said But that s public speaking not prose I felt the whole time that that s what Houghton was doing He over describes and over explains He even explains things like a memory palace that I think most of us are familiar with, or, if not familiar with, we are perfectly capable of looking up in exhaustive detail Early on, there are copious descriptions of Mina s magic lamp, which makes her immortal I was glad when she finally snuffed the damn thing out because it meant I wouldn t have to read about what it looks like any There was the overall diction while I appreciate Houghton s obvious knowledge of nautical terms, he didn t need to put so many of them in I don t need to know that one of the sailors is an able seaman I don t need to know what a topgallant is I don t care It did not add to the story and I was just annoyed when I looked up a word only to find out that it referred to a specific mast or whatever I m a layman For my purposes, just say mast I didn t find out till I reached the end that he had put in a glossary The only books that should require a glossary is if they contain a wholly invented language, like Elvish If your book demands a jargon key, I think you need to really rethink your word choices And then, there s just bad writing One example that stuck out for me was, an expressionless smile What the hell is an expressionless smile The structure and pacing of this book made no sense to me The start is painfully slow The exposition doesn t come till about a third of the way through Why put it there Why withhold important information like the purpose of the lamp, only to reveal it well after the reader has figured it out The world itself was not sufficiently realized The job of the author is to create a living, breathing world Then the author must be the tour guide by which we, the readers, navigate it I get that it takes place in some alternate version of Earth again, I was thinking along the lines of His Dark Materials, where you had a Jordan College at Oxford, where you had the Magisterium instead of the Church, Gyptians instead of Gypsies, and so forth This book had places that correspond roughly to Earth New England, Genoa, etc But the way this world works is never explained New England has a court, with a capital city called Tremont How does this government work What is life like for the commoners Are they aware of the magic and intrigues He takes us to a city called Pomin I don t know how Pomin and New England interact, what their relationship is We see a guy with a geologist shop in Tremont Do the people of this world utilize the magical properties of stones, or is it like a jeweler The time period is not clear Women wear corsets, but they re allowed to serve in politics Sailors take orders from a child, and no one raises an eyebrow at that No one raises their eyebrows at having a ten year old girl on board a frigate Part of what would ve made the story intriguing would have been to explain some of that is this just an exceptionally liberal place It didn t seem so Also, I wasn t clear on whether it was supposed to correspond to our 17th, 18th or 19th century Then there s the magic and magical artifacts Building a cohesive fantasy universe is than just throwing in some mysterious items and calling it good This book has people who are kept alive by being bound to a lamp As long as the lamp is fed its copper, some sort of liquid fuel, they remain immortal The titular Captain s Door is a portable pocket dimension, created by tailors hundreds of years before There are some other items, like sun cloth, a speaking tube, a special telescope Any one of these items alone could have made for a fascinating tale But the author puts them in and never explains them How do they support and enrich this universe There was no real plot to speak of Yes, it s Mina vs her mother, but I don t know what either of these characters histories or motivations are I don t know anything about their relationship to each other, aside from the fact that they are family They bicker and get into physical altercations, but I don t know why Glimpses from Mina s actual childhood could have provided some insight I also don t know why Mina has, after a hundred some odd years, decided to defy her mother I guess we are to assume that Mina is tired of being immortal Because young and healthy forever must be tough In Interview with the Vampire, Claudia was trapped in the body of a child It is made clear why Lestat made her that way It is clear why she hates it Perhaps Mina was tired of serving someone else But what alternate plans did she have in mind There was some indication she was upset because her immortality was foisted upon her yet, she seems to enjoy her life She loves the sea, she loves her crew She even has had, it seems, engaged in some sort of romance or flirtation So what s the problem When Mina extinguishes her lamp, she immediately starts puberty with a horrible first period almost right off the bat If her body is still ten years old, why does she get a period so quickly Girls in bygone eras did not have their periods that young Is having her magical immortality abruptly terminated causing her to age rapidly Does Houghton realize that a period is a gauge for a woman s overall health, so giving her a heavy first period with lots of cramping indicates that something is terribly wrong And what of the flickerings of sexuality she displays kissing Rohad, flirting with Dillon Was she sexual despite being in a ten year old s body, or is she getting sexual now because she s growing up Frustratingly, this book brings up question after question and does not bother to answer them.In the initial pages, Houghton plunges us right into the action, taking us along on one of Mina s missions We never find out exactly what this mission was or what was to be gained from it I kept waiting for Houghton to reveal some major, over arching design that would explain Mrs Paradis behavior, some glimpse into her goals or agenda None came Then there was Mrs Paradis herself When we finally see her, she s tarted up like a whorehouse madame I hated that I understand that sexuality is one of the tools in her arsenal, but that doesn t mean she should lack all subtlety This is supposed to be a woman who has achieved a major position at court, which I would think calls for some finesse Where was Mina and Charlotte s father Why is Mina so protective of her sister, who came off as a whiny, useless bitch Houghton kept insisting that Mrs Paradis and Charlotte were dependent upon Mina Why Why does everything hinge upon her Why is Mina the one who gets sent out on dangerous missions She does not seem uniquely suited to it Her immortality does not seem to endow her with preternatural strength or intelligence For example, she decides to snuff her lamp, and then go rescue her sister Why not go rescue her sister, and THEN snuff the lamp She is not a good decision maker or strategist She is neither witty nor compelling Who am I supposed to be rooting for here If there was very little characterization for Mina and her family, there was no characterization for anybody else The other politicians barely put in an appearance at court The crewmen were basically indistinguishable from one another I might ve cared about some of them if they had actual personalities I don t know why they are so loyal to Mina I don t know what they ve been through together The author has said that Mina is an unreliable narrator To an extent, any first person narrator is But I m unclear as to how she was supposed to be unreliable is her mother really the victim here, then The author also keeps saying that this book is very unusual I m not sure there are any particularly unusual or original elements here Just a whole lot of stuff that doesn t really add up. I want this book to be a stronger 4 than it is The tone of the writing is often beautiful, and there s some interesting ideas in the story that can be very engagingBut you have to make a firm commitment to it to get all of that Despite the fast opening, on one of Mina s missions, it then slows down until 35 40% of the way through the book So don t expect to be engaged in the story until that long expect to be engaged in the writing There s a lot of beautiful elements to Houghton s writing, but they re dense so much so that I found myself slowed down considerably I d read a sentence, or a paragraph, and it would take me so long to assimilate the imagery and ideas, that I d get distracted and return to whatever else was on my to do list Despite the abundance of details, the world, and most of the characters weren t as realistically fleshed out as it could have been Mina s relationship with her handler was particularly fascinating view spoiler I know some of the other reviewers here didn t particularly care for it, and asked WHY her mother was so driven to control her children, and why Mina picked that time to rebel To be honest, I didn t question it, because I ve known people who ve grown up in similar families, had similar reactions to the psychological control and abuse And I ve seen their families behave similarly to Mina s mother, when their control is balked There was a shellshocked quality to Mina and her sister, and an affectionate quality to her mother s violence that rang very real, midst the fantasy hide spoiler Interesting world building with a strong female protagonist The book is about a woman who does not age beyond her tenth year and is the captain of a ship She is kept young by the burning of a torch that also binds her to a contract Excellent descriptions of life on a ship The book also looks at the dynamics between mother and daughter and between sisters to a lesser extent , which I found to be one of the intriguing aspects of the story. Won this here on goodreads All I can say is WOW Very unique story I loved it It is so refreshing to read a story that is so unexpected, yet so very good A unique spin on how a relationship between parent and child can go awry, as well as political misuse of power all wrapped in a fantasy sci fi kind of cloak Can wait to read I didn t know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised to find it adult and read very well by K Orion Fray.Looking forward to many so get busy C.S and thanks for the reading listening opportunity. A interesting fantasy with some wild twist A good read I won this book on Goodreads Thank you