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Book Notes: Thornhedge

Sometimes the very last weeks of summer call for a slim novella you can finish in a day. And if you’re in a mood for a fractured fairy tale, then Thornhedge, by T. Kingfisher, might be perfect. 

From the author of Nettle & Bone, a favorite of mine, Thornhedge reimagines the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale by wondering why a young princess would need to be contained by a magical sleep in a high tower, buttressed by miles of thorny hedges. We meet Toadling, the not-quite-human/not-quite-fairy -- able to transform into a toad and with a watery magic of her own. She is the last remaining guardian to the potential catastrophe sleeping behind a bricked up door. She is the one who feels responsible and helpless and trapped all at once. Toadling has watched the world go by and prayed that none would come investigating. That the world would forget the story and the tower and the girl-like-thing asleep within it. Toadling can almost believe they have been forgotten. Until one day a knight makes camp outside the briars.

Throughout these pages T. Kingfisher continually turns the conventions of fairy tales on their heads. My tenderness and sympathy are all for Toadling, stolen from her human life. The fairies that raise her, while grotesque to the human eye, offer her a belonging that never fades, even when she is forced into mitigating harm she did not cause. And T. Kingfisher perfectly captures the mix of dread and hope that occurs when an unforeseen element is suddenly introduced to an untenable situation. The book itself is absolutely beautiful, with a foil stamped design under the dust jacket and endpapers illustrated by the author. Perfect for fans of Alix E. Harrow!

— Lori