Greta—one of the girls sold to Belladoma as fodder for the sea monster who threatens monthly floods in Monstrous (2015)—makes a dangerous deal with a witch to save her brother.
Greta’s dismayed that King Oliver wants to aid the devastated Belladoma after Monstrous. Still reeling from her trauma, she can’t forgive Belladoma for using Bryre’s girls as sacrifices. When her last relative, her brother Hans, goes missing, she begs the king for help—but, as she has concealed Hans’ existence to keep him from an orphanage, the king thinks it’s a ploy to prevent them from helping Belladoma. Hurt they’ve called her a liar, Greta leaves to save Hans and finds his captor, a Baba Yaga–like witch who eats children and has a house on chicken legs. They strike a deal: if Greta retrieves a long-lost magical cornucopia, the siblings go free; otherwise, they’re on the witch’s menu. Greta’s quest brings her to a village of centaurs and other hybrids, up against mercenaries, and to Belladoma, where her assumptions about its people’s callousness are challenged while she works through her trauma. Connolly does an admirable job ensuring each detail introduced eventually serves the plot. Greta tackles issues of compassion and loyalty with the courage and wits she fights with, and the fairy-tale ending will leave readers happy. The finished book will include a prequel novella.
A fantastical adventure fortified by its flawed heroine. (Fantasy. 8-14)