When was the last time you heard a fresh song that didn't have tinkling of another, or was a remix? Or the last time you saw a movie that want a remake for had an original plot line? Even books tend to mimic each other often becoming predictable when its plot lines resemble a predecessor. Nine times out of ten predictability is a good thing. It is why you read a books synapsis or talk to others who have read it for their input. Using that information you can predict whether it will be something you enjoy or not. I for one usually revel in predicability and like my dad, I don’t accept change very easily at all. I will watch a movie for the hundredth time over one I haven’t seen yet because I know for certain that it is one I definitely like. It is similar with books; if I ever get into a reading or writing funk, I return to my old friends with their worn spines and returning home to Narnia, Hogwarts, Velaris, Alegasiea, or Idris. Anyway the point I am trying to make is this: something brand new seems to be very rare. Especially something as time-tested and enduring as a fairytale. All fairytales I have heard so far in my twenty six years were all cut up and reimagined tales from the Brothers Grimm and the like. . . until about three days ago.
Among the Beasts and Briars is a resetting rarity in its entirety. A fairytale that had not yet been told?! Unbelievable. And a fantasy tale with brand new creatures, storyline, and lesson; even more so. And we all know how I feel about retellings, so the fact that this one scored so highly in my book should tell you something. This book has the perfect balance of supernatural and ordinary characters, excitement and plot-building, happy endings and. . . not so much. And for a book that only has 338 pages, the amount of world building was fantastic without being too overwhelming.
The tale opens with a gifted girl who is much loved by her family, friends and her sort of pet fox. Cursed with the gift of an amazing green(. . . or red) thumb, a mere drop of her blood can make her garden explode with life. Fortunately for her, she is the daughter of the Royal Gardener so she is able to keep her ability mostly a secret. Up until a few years before, the royal family alone possessed any magical ability and only after a horrible day in the Wildwood did Cerys’ power awaken. On the day of her best friend’s coronation, everything goes terribly wrong and the kingdom’s biggest fear comes to pass when the magical protection against the Wildwood shatters and casts its Woodcurse on all of its inhabitants; except for Cerys. Now having to run from everyone she loves, now hunting her, she has only one place to hide. With the help of the fox and a friendly bear who are both more than they seem then have to fight to survive the Wildwood and break the curse that has now entrapped them all.
This story was spun so beautifully I only wish I could know what happens next for Cerys and her fox! I look forward to see what this author comes up with next.