Twelve-year-old Princess Andaryn will do anything to save her father, her six older brothers, and her kingdom from her father’s new “witch-wife,” even if it means her silence.
Her father hasn’t been the same since he was lost in the forest and then rescued by the imperious woman he then married. Once kind and attentive, he is now distracted; once gentle and just, he now permits brutal, capricious punishments. When the queen threatens to kill her brothers, Ryn bargains for their lives. She agrees to remain silent for six years while her brothers are changed into swans. Rather than stay at the castle to be tormented, Ryn flees, fakes her own death, and disappears into the countryside. There, she seeks the help of the queen’s mentor, a strange, addled old woman living in the midst of a nettle bush. She learns that the only way to break the spell is to fashion tunics made of nettles for each of her brothers. Relentlessly pursued by Otherworldly creatures drawn from the Great Hunt, Ryn is forced to stay on the move. She is soon joined by a hen, her sister-in-law, and later by her baby nephew, but it is not until she meets a ruler from another land that she begins to turn her eyes toward home again. Ryn is depicted as white on the cover; diversity in this Europe-esque fantasy land is limited to magical creatures. This imaginative retelling of a familiar Brothers Grimm story is filled with magic, romance, and peril, but where it shines is in the quiet moments. Ryn’s strength, love, and sacrifice make her heroic, but her fear, fatigue, and insecurity make her human.
An imaginative retelling with an unforgettable heroine. (Fantasy. 9-13)