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Short Take: Nettle and Bone

When I got to the last page of Nettle and Bone, it was with a sigh of satisfaction of a story well-told and meticulously crafted. While many of the traditional high fantasy elements are there, princes and princesses, curses and godmothers, quests and goblin markets, each is subverted in the most delightful way. Marra is the third daughter of a tiny kingdom struggling to remain autonomous against more powerful neighbors to the south and north. Her mother has laid her political pieces carefully, using first one daughter, then the second to appease one potential foe to hold off the other. Marra is packed off to a convent to keep her out of the way, but also in reserve. However, when Marra discovers the terrible secret keeping her sister trapped in her marriage, she will grasp at any way to free her. Including seeking out a dust-wife with a demon chicken, braving the goblin market, and crafting a dog from bones.