The author’s latest fantasy series introduces Aislin, a princess of mixed heritage: fairy (the Disney-esque type) and pedrasi (less glitzy but gifted cavern dwellers).
Aislin’s fairy father and pedrasi mother rule a diverse kingdom that welcomes giants, ogres, sprites, nymphs, and others along with their own kinds. Aislin resembles her mother’s people—on the short and stocky side (though not in the cover art)—more than the tall, willowy fairies. Her pedrasi heritage confers what proves a crucial gift: drawing power from rocks and stones. Magical beings left the human world behind long ago and barred humans from entering their kingdoms. That changes when King Tyburr of Morain breaches the border. Alarmed, Aislin asks him to take her back to his castle, hoping to get him away from her people and learn his intentions. Her companions, a magical doll and her fairy BFF, also make effective spies. The king ponders marrying her to his conceited son, Rory, although snobbish castle courtiers disdain Aislin as fat and too dark; Rory’s companion Tomas is more to her liking. The writing is uneven: Static opening scenes of Aislin’s home castle read like paint-by-numbers for text, but pace and storytelling pick up whenever Aislin heads outdoors, where the author’s gift for synthesizing nature and magic comes into play. Humans seem to be default white, and Aislin’s dark skin is due to a pedrasi tendency to tan in the sun.
A quirky, imaginative tale locked inside a stale, formulaic princess narrative. (Fantasy. 8-12)