A Bible-loving, magic-using orphan and her reluctant companion plunge into the deep dark woods in this Southern fantasy.
After the zealous Preacher burned her mother for witchcraft, 11-year-old, white-haired, golden-eyed, white Goldeline fled Templeton to live with substitute father-figure Gruff and his bandits in the forest. When Goldeline’s impulsive rescue of 10-year-old, redheaded, white orphan Tommy destroys the camp, the two youngsters traverse the dangerous woods in search of the much-mythologized rogues’ refuge of Moon Haven. With the terrifying (yet underdeveloped) Preacher and his mob of Townies in pursuit, Goldeline rewrites her own story, going from apprentice bandit and Ghost Girl to inappropriate angel to budding witch. The duo’s encounters and escapes from wicked people—whose villainy is crudely symbolized by their deformities—echo traditional fairy tales but have an unexpected Christian twist; Goldeline learned magic from her mother but also treasures the (good) Book. Debut author Cajoleas unspools the simple but suspenseful story with a distinctive Southern cadence and rich scenic descriptions but a peculiar absence of characters of color, and geographic and historical vagueness place this tale in the realm of fabulism and big-fish stories.
A folksy fairy tale bridging The Robber Bridegroom and Beasts of the Southern Wild. (Fantasy. 9-12)