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Sometimes you must give up what you value most to gain what you want even more.

Princess Catrin is just a child when her mother vanishes, leaving her a cryptic legacy: a priceless magical book and the warning that if Catrin ever loses it, she’ll surely die. But she is a young woman on the brink of a whole new life when, in a moment of defiance, she forgets that warning and triggers a catastrophe that shatters all her hopes.

Stricken with grief and seeking a way to correct her terrible mistake, Catrin risks everything on a dangerous bargain. Too late, she realizes just how much more she has to lose.

With advice from a half-mad witch and help from companions she meets along the way, Catrin embarks on a desperate quest to defeat seven riddling Magpies–magical tricksters who can shapeshift into anything or anyone–and win back her book or face losing everything she holds dear.

With each step the stakes get higher, and there are secrets she still doesn’t suspect. How much is Catrin willing to sacrifice to finally unmask the Seventh Magpie?

A dark fairy tale of loss and renewal.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

5 out of 5 stars

Reading this made me feel like a little girl again, curled up with Mommy while she was reading me princess stories. There is a whimsical, magical feel to this story that I haven’t truly encountered in contemporary literature before. It is a singular story that seems to cast a category all its own, creating something that truly comes across as an old-timey fairytale while creating something completely new. The fantastic illustrations add splendidly to the storybook feel and I immensely enjoyed the whole of the story.

The plot:

As I said, there is a definite storybook feel, however this employs more modern logic and characters. Unlike some of the old fables, the storyline interweaves and interconnects in ways the reader doesn’t see coming and gives us plenty to guess at right up until the very last page.

The riddles, the magic, the quests, and the prices of Catrin’s quests were wonderfully inventive and original while maintaining the fairytale theme of the story. You can certainly tell the author put her heart and soul into this.

There is a sense of sadness to the story, but at the same time, a lightness and whimsy that never lets the reader become depressed. The ending was not at all what I expected, but was no less gratifying and Ms. Chase is undeniably an exceptional wordsmith.

The characters:

The character development in this is not what we are used to in modern books. It is certainly incorporated, but is a bit more distant in keeping with the fairytale style. The focus is almost wholly on the main character, Catrin, and she undergoes a number of transformations throughout the story. She certainly matures and learns throughout the tale, a refreshing change from the traditional mold.

Overall, I think this is an amazing piece and I can do nothing but recommend it to anyone with a taste for fairytales that are fresh and inventive.

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