Juniper & Thorn by Ava Reid
Fantasy Horror/ Retelling
June 21, 2022 by Harper Voyager
I discovered this author when I read her The Wolf and the Woodsman last year. Her sophomore release, Juniper & Thorn is a retelling of one of Grimm’s darker fairytales, The Juniper Tree.
Readers meet Marlinchen, the youngest daughter of the last great wizard Zmiy Vashchenko. Tucked into their home, while the city of Oblya grows and changes around them, the three Vashchenko witches take on clients according to their gifts, while their father oversees their work and rules with an iron hand, all while being under a terrible curse. They aren’t allowed outside the walls of their home to mingle or sully themselves with outsiders.
But sneak out they do and that is when Marlinchen meets the talented Sevastyan Rezkin, principal dancer of the Oblya Ballet.
I won’t delve too deeply into the plot specifics, but I will say that this is a book full of dark themes and grim content. I would classify this as a true fantasy horror. Yet the author grabbed me from the first word, and I couldn’t tear myself away despite the foreboding feeling that it would get a lot worse before there was a smidgen of light. Marlinchen is an engaging narrator, at times I wasn’t sure how reliable she actually was, but I did enjoy watching this tale unfold through her eyes.
This is an author to watch in the fantasy genre and I look forward to her next release.
Content warnings- mentions of sexual abuse, death of a parent, physical abuse, murder, descriptions of an eating disorder
A Mirror Mended by Alix E Harrow
Fractured Fables #2
June 14, 2022 by Tordotcom
In the follow-up to Harrow’s A Spindle Splintered, readers are once again thrust into the fairytale multiverse when Zinnia Gray gets sucked into a mirror and finds herself up against an evil queen in the world of Snow White.
Zinnia, as you might remember, is an expert on Sleeping Beauty, and since the events in A Spindle Splintered, has been hopping in and out of that fable, rescuing princesses and giving them better options for their future. But she knows deep down she is messing up the multiverse and delaying her own ever after.
When she gets plunged into a world not her own, she has to unravel the mystery of Snow White all while figuring out how to save herself… and possibly the evil queen too.
Once again this author upends long-held tropes showing readers that not everything is black and white and even the most evil characters might just be misunderstood and desperate for agency. This is a quick novella-length read, with snappy dialogue and a very likable protagonist. I gobbled it up in one evening.
I enjoyed catching up with Zinnia, and even Prim and Charm. The ending leads me to believe that this just might be the last installment in this series… but one never knows. We just might see these characters again.
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