Friday, May 16, 2014

A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn

Main character: 17 year old Marni
Location: unnamed fairytale land
Time period: Medieval-ish
Genre: YA fiction, fantasy

Marni, the flower girl, lives with her Gramps at the edge of the forest.  People from the village and lords and ladies from the castle come to buy their flowers and visit with Gramps, but Marni does not feel a part of either group.  There is something in the forest that calls to her, especially a pretty lady with glowing eyes who teaches Marni to knit magic with pine needles.  But Marni never goes too far into the forest and she always stays close to her home, her garden, and her Gramps.

Every once in a while, the forest will call to other girls who walk in and are never seen again.  Marni’s mother was one of these girls, but she was the only one to come back out—with a baby.  But Marni’s mother was the daughter of the king and the king’s son is enraged at what he sees as his sister’s betrayal.  He chases her to the ends of the kingdom and kills her, crippling his father when he tries to protect her.  He would have killed Marni as well, but the king promises to give up his throne and raise her apart from the court.

This is pure fairy tale.  It’s not a retelling or re-imagining of a familiar tale, or a fractured tale, or a mash-up of fairy tale characters.  Instead, it’s more like Gail Carson Levine’s original fairy tales, such as Ever or Fairest.  It is so steeped in fairy tale traditions that it feels real.  That can set up expectations in the reader--when Marni winds up at the castle, her uncle’s wife, the queen, welcomes her.  I was expecting a stepmother variation and worried that the queen’s welcoming words hid a darker purpose, but no.  She is perfectly sincere in offering friendship to Marni.

I also really enjoyed that when faced with a choice--go into the forest and become a wild creature or marry Lord Edgar who can protect her from the king--Marni chooses her own path.  

I read A Creature of Moonlight as an e-ARC from Net Galley.

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