Roth’s love story transcends the battle of good and evil in her classic fairy tale.
First and foremost, this book is a fairy tale, the definition of which includes phrases such as “fabricated story,” “idealized” and “magical.” The story of beautiful Marianna and devastatingly handsome Martak fits that definition. In addition to beauty, Marianna possesses intelligence, kindness and bravery. Martak was raised in the forest, flies with eagles, and shows great loyalty and strength. They form an archetypal couple, a man and woman who fall in love at first sight and can only exist in fairy tales…which is exactly what Roth intends. Their love story is set 20 years after a standoff between Good and Evil, when Evil places the people of Good’s realm to the test. Unfortunately for the realm, they fail said test, and the forces of Evil begin to amass. Yet there is a loophole to Evil’s test, involving the children of a previously chosen couple who must resist temptation in order to break Evil’s curse. Though Martak and Marianna are not the chosen couple, they play a critical role in saving the realm. Martak is recruited by the king to protect the young princess Rosy, who is only days away from her eighth birthday and is the key to ending the curse. Martak sets sail on a journey, facing dragons and unexpected obstacles. Meanwhile, Marianna is in danger at home and in desperate need of Martak’s rescue. Roth’s book features all of the requirements of the genre—forest creatures, knights, dragons, a maiden in distress and a dashing hero. The characters will be familiar to fans of Grimm and Disney, which does not detract from their appeal. Roth does an admirable job of moving the relationship along while maintaining the threads that weave together to form the larger narrative. The climax of the book is a revelation that solves several questions and neatly wraps up the loose ends. Blumen’s stunning illustrations that accompany the text are a beautiful contribution.
A satisfying story for those who can suspend disbelief, ignore any feminist misgivings and enjoy a fairy-tale ending.