Isn't this an awesome start to a book? When I read these two sentences, I immediately raised my hopes for this book. After all, why was hope being eaten in an orchard? And it's alive? So is it human, vegetable or mineral? So many questions.
The Orchard of Hope follows Kelsey, a girl who likes killing things and is apparently good at that; Roland, the grim reaper who takes on a different form to different people and Maggie, a 'girly girl' who likes to talk as they go on a quest to stop hope from being eaten by wolves. At the same time, their friend Nicholas is being trained by an eccentric sorcerer Moss, a snow leopard called Megan and a gargoyle who likes cookies.
What I liked about this book was the set-up of the story. It was interesting, and I could see that this book was part of a series (I really should hunt down the first book). Personally, I thought the solution to the "wolves stealing hope" part was rather anti-climatic and a bit rushed, but I did enjoy the descriptions of the various places and the characters.
One thing I noticed that I shouldn't have noticed was the message of the book. Very early into the book, it flat out tells you that one of the messages is learning to get along with people who are different from you. Ok, maybe it wasn't so blunt, but all that talk about important lessons to be learnt, how the Kelsey seemed to only get along with people like her, this felt way too obvious. Personally, I would have cut out all the scenes that make it obvious that the quest is also going to involve some personal growth since it's really a "telling" rather than "showing". This was strongest in the first few chapters, although it receded somewhat when the quest started.
To sum, this is a book with interesting characters and an interesting setting. I think the future conflicts with the main villain (the evil sorcerer) will be interesting to read. However, it suffers from the "telling not showing" syndrome, which was rather annoying at times.
Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.