“‘Tristan and Isolde’? More like stuff and nonsense…”
At age eighteen, Isolde of Ayrland is expected to master the healing arts and uphold her mother’s legacy as a healer, but she’s nowhere near ready for the undertaking. Though her mother’s always urging her to “trust herself,” Isolde doesn’t know the first thing about herself worth trusting.
When Isolde heals the wounds of a gallant stranger, little does she know he’s actually Trustan, nephew of the King of Lyonesse. Trustan’s uncle, King Marc, has been suffering a mysterious malady no one’s been able to cure. Isolde makes the voyage to the Isle of Lyonesse only to meet a prickly king who doubts her almost as much as she doubts herself. To make matters worse, whatever afflicts him is unlike anything she’s ever encountered—and completely impervious to her powers.
As castle intrigue and rumors abound, Marc and Trustan begin to confide in Isolde. She’s only there to do her job—not to befriend anyone, and certainly not to fall in love. But as danger looms and no one is who he appears to be, Isolde must decide whom to trust. Only, what if her own heart is the most deceptive one of all?
AS TOLD BY ISOLDE is the next YA fantasy romance novella in my award-winning Mythic Maidens series. Includes a short bonus prequel!
Title:The Rose Legacy Author: Jessica Day George Series: Rose Legacy: Book 1 Page Count: 288 pages Genre: MG Fantasy Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books Release Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher’s Summary: When orphaned Anthea Cross-Thornley receives a letter from a long-lost uncle, she wonders if she will finally find a true home. But she is shocked to learn that her uncle secretly breeds horses–animals that have been forbidden in her kingdom for centuries. More alarming is Anthea’s strange ability to sense the horses’ thoughts and feelings, an ancient gift called The Way. Confused and terrified, Anthea is desperate to leave, but when her family and kingdom are put at risk, can she embrace The Way and the exciting future it might bring her?
My Thoughts: This is through-and-through a horse lover’s novel. I was interested to learn that it was Jessica Day George’s first novel (or one of her first?), but never saw publication until it was revised later in her career. I enjoyed her Isbjorn/Singing, Springing Lark retelling in Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow when I read it several years back; I like her gentle storytelling style. In The Rose Legacy, we meet young Anthea, who dreams of becoming a Rose Maiden to the queen. Instead, she gets sent to a land of exile where her uncle illegally breeds horses. Horses are thought in their kingdom to be plague-bringers and spreaders of disease, so Anthea must get over her prejudice against them to realize her deep, telepathic connection with one of her uncle’s horses, Florian. Their relationship reminded me of the Princess and her horse, Falada, in The Goose Girl, but thankfully without the tragedy.
I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed this story as much if I hadn’t recently adopted (and subsequently fell in love with, lol) my Golden Retriever. It’s definitely for animal lovers and the story’s heart is the bond between human and animal. The politics of the fictional nation didn’t grip me so much, but the twist at the end left me curious. For young fans of horses and fairy tales, this book belongs in your stable!
Distinguishing characteristics: Long black hair, tall and gangly. Gentle and modest; good with horses.
Motivations: Just to take and live each day as it comes. Mallory is determined to make the best of any situation, no matter how hopeless it may seem. Mal’s Story:
Mallory is a goodhearted stable girl on the grounds of Dorsett Castle, each day enduring the odious temper of her boss, the stablemaster, Bobbin. When the princess herself appears at the stables one evening, demanding a horse to ride, Mallory will not betray the queen and allow the crown princess to run away. After a quarrel that leaves the girls soaked in a creek, they suddenly find they have switched bodies. Kindly Mal now occupies the body of the detestable princess…and must reject the charming Prince of Veir’s marriage proposal on the princess’s behalf at tomorrow night’s ball!
Find out what happens in The Golden Dove, available in paperback, eBook, or audio:
Distinguishing characteristics: Tall, slender, thin mustache. Prefers books to crowds. Motivations: His love of history and facts propels the young prime minister to uphold his role in the constitutional monarchy with fairness and compassion.
Prime Minister Rhoades’ Story:
Young, reclusive, and bookish Prime Minister Rhoades was elected after his uncle’s term expired. He wants to bring positive change while upholding the law in the tiny Kingdom of Dorsett. But the queen’s harridan of a daughter, Princess Tàlia, makes that more difficult than he had imagined. Then on the evening of the princess’s ball, which he is forced to attend, he’s paired with the most intriguing woman. She makes him feel something he’s never felt before. But he can’t shake the feeling he’s already met her, that she’s someone he knows, in disguise…
Who is the mysterious young woman he meets? Find out in The Golden Dove, available in paperback, eBook, or audio:
Full Name: Archer Cross Featured in: Fool Moonby C.K. Brooke
Status: Self-proclaimed highwayman hunter
Distinguishing characteristics: Brown hair, goatee. Carries a bow & arrow and rides a golden horse called Sunbeam.
Motivations: Ridding the roads of highwaymen, protecting the innocent, restoring justice his way and making a living in the process.
Armed with a rare blessing, Archer Cross cannot be harmed by evil. However, that doesn’t mean his loved ones can’t be. Haunted by a traumatic event in his past, Archer has devoted his days to ridding Creee’s roads of the murderous highwaymen that plague them. The one thing he doesn’t have time for is a strange girl beseeching him to escort her to a wicked land that lies impossibly far away. Until she presents him with a magical offer he can’t refuse…
Join Archer and Lori’s journey in my original fairy tale, Fool Moon, available in paperback, eBook, and audio:
Distinguishing characteristics: Long dark hair that she wears in a braid. Was cursed by a wicked witch and now sees ghostly shades.
Motivations: A normal life. Freedom from her curse and the shades’ oppression.
Lori’s Story Lori will do anything to undo the curse an evil witch has cast upon her, even if it means losing all of her memories. But when she meets and falls for a young man on her quest to confront the witch, will she still wish to vanquish her memories of him and their love along with the curse that torments her?
Take Lori’s journey in my original fairy tale, Fool Moon, available in paperback, eBook, and audio:
Distinguishing characteristics: Slight, blonde, ill-tempered and intimidating
Motivations: Preserving her crown and her kingdom the way she likes them, and keeping subordinates in their place.
Tàlia’s Story Princess Tàlia is perhaps the most despised person in the tiny kingdom of Dorsett—only, she doesn’t realize it. Yet. When trying to flee her engagement to a prince, the only person standing in her way is one disobedient stable girl. An unbroke horse, a bitter tussle, and one talking, magical dove later, and the princess finds herself somehow—catastrophically—stuck in the other girl’s body. Through the eyes of someone else, she begins to see what she truly is…and will learn the true meaning of friendship, love, and second chances.
Tàlia’s tale can be read—or heard—in The Golden Dove. Pick up my original fairy tale today, in paperback, eBook, or audio:
Entwined is a teen/YA novel by Heather Dixon, based off of the Grimm Fairy Tale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. The main character is Princess Azalea, the eldest of twelve royal sisters who all love to dance. When their beloved mother dies, their stoic father – the king – prohibits the girls from dancing during the year of mourning. But their old palace contains deep magic, and the princesses discover an enchanted silver forest within the walls where they can dance each night, hosted by a mysterious magician called the Keeper.
However, the fantasy/magic part of the story isn’t what made this novel so good. It was the relationships and personalities of each of the twelve sisters, the delightful humor in the writing, and all of the heartwarming romantic subplots with their unique gentlemen suitors that kept me swiping the e-pages. This is also a beautiful father-daughters story, about an aloof ruler transforming into a loving parent. I almost feel as though all the fantasy aspects could’ve been taken out of this book, and it still would make a terrific little regency or Victorian coming-of-age romance. But the magical elements added an interesting backdrop – and, of course, life-threatening peril! (Indeed, the end is action-packed.)
If you like an old-fashioned, heartwarming story about a close-knit family, reminiscent of “Meet Me in St. Louis” or “The Sound of Music,” skillfully written and blended with fairy tale magic, regency-style romance, and tons of humor and dancing, then I recommend Entwined!
As the market today is rather saturated in the genre, I am not generally a reader of modern fairy tale renditions. Yet, I was drawn to the cover of this urban teen fantasy, Splintered (2013) by A. G. Howard, a novel based on Alice in Wonderland. When I opened it up and began reading, I was hooked from the first sentence.
Alyssa Gardner is a smart and determined goth/glam skater girl who lives with her father in a small Texas town. Her mother, a direct descendant of Alice Liddell – the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – has been living in an insane asylum for the last eleven years. But she’s not really insane. At the coaxing of Alyssa’s childhood guide – a blue moth who can transform into a very sexy netherling – Alyssa and her longtime crush, Jeb, must journey down the rabbit hole into Wonderland to repair the messes Alice Liddell left behind… or so they think.
In Howard’s rendering, Wonderland is gothic and macabre, with some terrifying creatures and twisted magic. Lewis Carroll fans will appreciate the quotes and plot references from his famous “Jabberwocky” poem. Alyssa’s guide, the moth/netherling Morpheus, was by far the most complex, entertaining and intriguing character. He was irresistibly sexy and well-written, although his constantly shifting motivations and ambiguity felt inconsistent at times. As well, the plot became a bit convoluted in the second & third acts, and detailed action sequences with frequent game-changing revelations made it difficult for me to follow along after a while.
As for Howard’s prose itself: it’s addictive, skilled and uniquely creative. I found myself rereading sentences just to marvel at the beauty of her descriptions and word choices. Her style is artistic – the reader can tell Howard has a keen eye for fashion and the visual arts. Her dialogue is also exceptional. Howard is a talented writer who’ll do well with her trilogy for fans of teen urban fantasy and gothic fairy tale retellings.