Ursula Vernon writes extremely practical heroines, they simply don’t have time for nonsense when there is danger around. It makes for some extremely humorous situations, and very good story telling. Here, under the pen name T. Kingfisher, she creates a fairytale and gives us the very practical miller’s daughter Rhea as our protagonist.
Rhea, is as I said a miller’s daughter, so when a lord asks for her hand in marriage there is very little she or her family can do to deny him. It doesn’t matter that she’s only 15, or that she’s never met him, or that he makes her a little uncomfortable a peasant denies a lord at their own risk. So she says yes, and when he sends for her she goes to his house and finds that she’s not the only woman this lord has married.
And so begins this clever fairy tale, which is a play on Bluebeard more then any other fairy tale, but also extremely original. There are all the fairy tale elements, talking elements, danger that must be overcome, and terrible evil. And all of these elements are presented with a simple kind of matter of factness that makes them accessible without taking away the wonder inherent in a fairy tale.
I love Rhea. She’s overwhelmed and terrified of what she stumbled into, but she also knows that something has to be done and so she does it. There’s no chosen one or prophecy to fulfill, Rhea is the one we’re reading about because Rhea is finally the one who succeeds.
I really enjoyed this simple fairy tale. However, there isn’t much in the way of character development. Rhea is who she is at the beginning and the end. It’s fine, because the point of the book isn’t her development but it does make for a bit of a static feel to the book.
The book is good but sadly not great. That said, I do still recommend it.