Princess Adela’s great-great-great grandfather thought he had declared an end to magic. In fact, the powerful Hortensia had driven all other practitioners away, leaving the field fertile for her own purposes. Now it is up to Adela to rescue the youth Hortensia has bewitched.
Hortensia regularly hosts parties where she turns the most beautiful young women into eternally blooming flowers and men into besotted servants. Their bespelled families believe their children have chosen to stay and soon forget them. When plain Adela, an aspiring gardener longing to see Hortensia’s gardens, crashes a party and witnesses Hortensia at work, she must take up the mantle of another of her ancestors. Informed by stories of King Ival’s battles against evil and aided by a talking magpie, Adela discovers the root of Hortensia’s power. The mythology of Ival’s deeds is nicely interwoven with Adela’s tale. Unvarnished storytelling, a solid back story and a strong cast of characters ground the tale. Children will readily identify with Adela’s painful doubts about whether anyone will see the beauty and strength within her. For those willing to dig deeper, the magpie is the more interesting, complex character. If, ultimately, the message is a bit didactic, all will still cheer Adela’s growth.
An original fairy tale that will suit young romantics to a T. (Fantasy. 9-12)