Wynn is a sweet-natured 11-year-old with physical and mental challenges that have caused her to be labeled a changeling and hidden away with her mother in a lonely hut far from the serfs’ village.
When Wynn’s mother dies, her father plans to sell the dark-haired white girl to the lord of the manor as a kitchen slave. Her older brother, Elric, loves her, but he is conflicted about his role as her protector, for he cannot always understand or meet her needs. He makes the difficult decision to take Wynn away and find her a safe home. Their journey through the medieval-ish landscape is fraught with danger from the elements and also from superstitious, often vicious inhabitants (most evidently white and with Saxon names). Even in the darkest moments Wynn sees magical omens linked to a mysterious song she learned from her mother, and she truly believes that they will find the titular silver gate, leading to the world of the dark-brown–skinned Fairy Queen. When Elric finally allows himself to believe as she does, they find more than safety. As conveyed in a third-person narration that occasionally shifts perspective from Elric to Wynn, the adventure is exciting, and the denouement is touching. Bailey explains Wynn’s very real genetic syndrome at the beginning rather than at the end of the work, perhaps indicating a lack of trust that readers will love Wynn and understand that she is wise and capable.
Tender and magical. (Fantasy. 8-12)