This is only the second offering I have read by T. Kingfisher. I was blown away by “What Moves the Dead” so wanted to read a longer work. Definitely happy that I did. I would only say the only thing that was an issue was how slow the first part of the book was when reading. It got much better. But we start in medias res and you are wondering what is happening as you find Marra trying to craft a dog made of bones. And then the book follows and then jumps back, and then does that for a bit before we settle into the “present.” Until we were firmly in the present I was wondering if I was going to like this or not, but I did. I laughed a lot while reading this. I want another book just following the dust-wife and Agnes. And of course Finder.
“Nettle & Bone follows Princess Marra, going incognito in order to do what she can to save her older sister, Kania. Kania and Marra are daughters of a King and Queen who are between two great kingdoms (North and South) whose older sister was sent away to marry the prince of the Northern Kingdom. However, their sister is returned to them dead. And then Kania as the next oldest is sent off to marry the prince. After that, Marra is sent away to a convent at the age of 15. Marra can’t be allowed to marry and have a child which could sit on the throne of her kingdom. When she is let out to visit her sister after she has given birth she realizes that all is not as it seems and she will do whatever it takes to free her sister before she gives birth again.
Marra is naïve at times, but has a good heart. The book follows her through 15 years and she slowly starts to realize that things in her family are not as she first thought. When she goes to the convent it seems to be the making of her. And when she realizes what kind of horror her sister is dealing with married to a cruel prince she’s determined to do what she can to save her from the fate of their older sister. Her doing impossible tasks makes you wonder what family Marra comes from, and there’s hints and reveals throughout that made the book so good.
The dust-witch was honestly my favorite character. Next up was Agnes. Who knew a fairy godmother could be so sweet and then not. Fenris was great too and his story was a sad one.
The writing was very good. You can definitely see callbacks to other fairy tales here and there like “Sleeping Beauty (wicked fairy godmother), but she of course does not follow that story-line at all. Instead we get the archetypes of fairy tales here such as the fairy godmother, the wandering princess, noble knight/huntsman, etc.
The flow as I said starts off very slow. I saw that some people didn’t get past that part and didn’t finish this, but once you push on through the book does get very very good. Just a slightly wonky slow build to things I would say.
The setting of this mythical kingdom is so interesting. We know Marra is from the Harbor Kingdom with the Northern and Southern Kingdoms between hers, but I really wanted a map or something to look at while reading.
The ending was great. I loved the resolution to everyone’s story in this one and just really need a novella with the dust-witch and Agnes.
I also read this for Cannonball Read 14 Book Bingo. This fits the following bingo circle:
- Time: Could involve time travel, non-linear time, a race against time, or another time; the time for this book has arrived.
- The book has characters (Marra, the dust-wife, Bonedog, Fenris, and Agnes) racing to save Marra’s sister Kania before she gives birth.