Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Book Review: Ariel by Fia Essen

arielAriel by Fia Essen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this novel without the expectation of a review. However, I have chosen to review the novel, because of how much I enjoyed it.

In Ariel by Fia Essen, the reader meets the title character well and truly at rock bottom. Three years after an abrupt break up, employment termination, and building up a pile of credit card debt, Ariel still finds herself trapped in a web of lies (not to mention apathy). However, as the novel progresses, Ariel is able to begin rebuilding her life, with the help of her friends and the mysterious Muse Agency, who are known in the expat community for helping down-and-out individuals turn their lives around and even become wildly successful in their fields.

The best way to describe Ariel is a “feel good” novel. Despite the rut that Ariel is in, she remains an engaging and funny narrator, and the reader is easily charmed by her. While at times I found her monologues a bit repetitive, they were still entertaining, and I actually began to accept them as a quirk of the character rather than just narration. Likewise, Essen has given Ariel realistic flaws – she often is blind to the truth around her, judges herself and others too harshly, and has a habit for lying. Watching Ariel recognize these traits in herself and grow out of them is an incredibly satisfying experience.

Moreover, the other characters in the novel are very well-written and have plenty of complexity. Their relationships with Ariel are believable and elicit emotional reactions within the reader. It is easy to envision these characters existing in their own worlds, and several of them would make for interesting protagonists in their own right. Perhaps the only character that I would have liked to have learned more about is “her Colin” (the love interest). Yes, he is handsome and charming and clearly a wonderful human being. However, I did feel like he lacked depth in comparison with the other characters.

Setting sets Ariel apart from other “chick lit” novels. The novel is set in Singapore, and perhaps it is my American background, but I have not read many novels set in Asia, so the new surrounding was a welcome change. Similarly, the fact that Ariel and her family are expatriates ads another interesting (and educational) component for the reader. Seeing how her experience as an expat and world traveler affected Ariel’s perspective was one of my favorite aspects of the novel.

Overall, Ariel has everything you want in a “chick lit” novel. There’s a spunky female protagonist with a great growth arc, funny and lovable sidekicks, a bit of adventure (in the recollections of Ariel’s travels and her unique lifestyle), and of course, a satisfying (and tasteful) romance.

On a personal note, as I finished Ariel, I couldn’t help but think that this is the most fun I’ve had with a novel in a long time. Perhaps it’s that I, too, feel a bit stuck in a rut right now (though, luckily nothing so dramatic!), or perhaps it’s that Ariel exhibits a similar theme to my own novel (rock bottom female protagonist coming into her own and finding potential for love along the way), just in an entirely different genre. Either way, I’m very pleased that I read Ariel when I did, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a quick, fun and charming read.

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arielIf you are interested in reading Ariel and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it through my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.

Guest Posts, Writing & Publishing Articles

Guest Post: Write What You Know by Fia Essen, Author of ARIEL and ANNA

Hello, everyone! Today I am thrilled to bring you a guest post from Fia Essen, a fellow author and blogger. I first encountered Fia through her blog, but I have also been lucky enough to host her on The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour. Today, Fia is back to share with you all the best piece of writing advice she has: write what you know. Enjoy!


Hello friends, fans, and followers of Kate!

My name is Fia Essen and I’m an author. Two of my novels have been published this year and now I’m making the rounds on the internet, spreading the words about my books, and doing blog interviews. One question that keeps coming up is “What is the best piece of writing advice you have ever received?” And I can honestly say that the answer to the question is write what you know.

That’s exactly what I do. I write what I know. I take my own experiences and events from my life and pour them into my writing.

Ariel is a lifelong expat. I’ve been an expat for twenty-five years. Anna booked a last minute ticket to Greece in a moment of uncharacteristic spontaneity and left her old life behind. I did that too.

My move from Singapore to Crete is what inspired me to write Anna. Not only did I find myself adjusting to living in a different country, I was inundated by an entirely different culture, too. After two decades of living in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, Europe was utterly alien and downright esoteric to me.

I had visited the Greek islands as a tourist before I impulsively packed up my life in Singapore and headed to Crete, which is the largest of the Greek islands. Like most tourists, I took the romanticized and perfectly idyllic version of the Mediterranean home with me in my mind when my vacation ended. The reality of daily life on a Greek island came as a huge culture shock. Singapore and Crete are both islands but that’s where their similarities begin and end. One is a bustling metropolis of the highest modern mode. The other often operates on medieval morals. Crete has one foot firmly and proudly planted in its illustrious past while the other foot tentatively treads on present ground.

Ariel is perhaps even more personal than Anna. This woman is stuck in a rut, she’s at rock bottom and can’t see a way out. She has lost sight of who she is and what she wants. Not long ago, I felt the same way. Writing the book helped me get out of my own rut. It reminded me that nothing is ever set in stone. As I sorted out Ariel’s fictional problems on the page, I began sorting out my own. When I gave Ariel the courage to chase her dreams, I rediscovered my own confidence.

Yes, the best piece of writing advice I ever received is write what you know.

If you’d like to find out what happens to Anna and Ariel, both books are available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback format. Ariel is here: http://mybook.to/ariel and Anna here: http://mybook.to/anna

And if you’d like to get social with me, you can…

Visit my Website – http://www.fiaessen.com/

Follow me on Twitter – @FiaEssen https://twitter.com/FiaEssen

Join me on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/fiaessen

Thank you!


Leave your questions and comments for Fia below! Thanks again, Fia!