Johnston weaves a beautiful tale of sisterhood and love, while re-creating the story A Thousand and One Nights. Similar to the original story, this is a desert setting and the king has taken 300 wives, one from each village, before coming to the village of our unnamed heroine. She asks her sister’s mother to help ready her for the king. She wants to take the focus off of her sister and offer herself to the king instead, in order to save her sister. She is swept away with the king, as he has chosen her, and taken to his palace.
The princess is soon to be married and not very excited about the prospect. She believes a life of matrimony will be the end of her ability to live her own life and make her own choices; she will be required to live and choose for the king and the kingdom.
Young Rachelle was trained to protect her people from the dark creatures that surround them, which she has always been determined to do. But she hasn't wanted to simply defend, she wants to boldly attack them. She learned the hard way that, unfortunately, sometimes the only effective way to attack the darkness is to embrace it. Now she clings desperately to her soul as one of those creatures, trying to hold off the darkness within herself while still protecting the people. And her work has moved her from a woodland village to the court of the king.
There are monsters in the desert. They came from the sea and fought with man, but now they wait, picking off their victims one at a time until they see fit to rage against the world of man once more.
As Lo-Melkhiin rides the storm into Her (there are no names in the book except for Lo-Melkhiin) village, She knows that he is coming to claim a new bride and her beautiful sister will most likely be his pick. Lo-Melkhiin has had three hundred brides already, and each one has met a swift death.
Before she was even born, Nyx was sold by her brutish father to the demon Gentle Lord that rules over Arcadia. He made a bet with the Gentle Lord, and lost, like many other foolish people in Arcadia. It has suffered for almost 1000 years under the Gentle Lord's rule and the demons that escape his castle from time to time. When a person lays eyes on a demon they either die or go insane. So things don't look too good for Nyx. She arrives at his castle, ready to kill him, as she has been trained, but things of course don't go according to plan.
The Fairyland series is whimsical - its language has both beauty and humor, and its content is a knowing, friendly wink to fellow lovers of fairy stories. There aren't just inventive "turns of phrase" - the phrases do more than turn - they galumph riotously across the page. But lest you think it's all play: moments of surprising clarity and gravitas can be found throughout the each book in the series. They come at you unexpectedly, and are all the more powerful for it. The fourth wall is often broken by the charming narrator and every character will seem both familiar and surprising as readers lose themselves in this unruly and deliciously wild tale.
In The Ocean at the End of the Lane, author Neil Gaiman presents a magical fairy tale that completely captures the reader’s imagination. This is a book you will not want to put down once you have started reading, so it is a good thing that, at just over 200 pages in length, it is an easy day read! The story unfolds as the narrator, a man in his fifties, returns home to England to speak at a funeral.
An amazing and unique retelling of Hansel and Gretel this story is narrated by the Jacob Grimm himself, caught in the plane between life and death. Jacob has become rather fond of Jeremy Johnson Johnson, who has the unique ability to hear spirits, a gift that has ostracized him from many in his small town of Never Better, unfortunately suffering from a rash of missing persons. Luckily it does not deter the friendship of the enigmatic and problematic Ginger Boultinghouse, who’s thirst for adventure has gotten them both in trouble on more than one occasion.
The third book in Catherynne M. Valente's Fairyland series, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, may be the best of the lot. (I reviewed the first two books here and here.) September, the young Nebraska girl who is our protagonist, is growing older and growing up. She desperately wants to return to Fairyland, but she's also anxious about her future there and at home.
This sequel to the dreamy and delightful The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is at least just as good as the first book, possibly better. It's a little darker, a little stranger, and a bit more complicated, but just as whimsical and wondrous.