Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher

A most unusual book for me – a fairy tale that I think was for adults and not a Young Adult book – what’s the difference? I suspect that there is quite a market for this type of story but it isn’t one that I have dabbled with.

The story has all the elements of a fairy tale: repetition, an element of magic, a problem that needs a solution, typical character types and settings. In Nettle and Bone we have Princess Marra who is 30 years old and as Harry would say a ‘spare’, Fenris a disgraced Knight who has the utmost priniciples, magic in the form of Dust Wives and Godmothers, an evil Prince and a dog made out of bones and wire.

The problem in this tale is that Marra’s eldest sister died falling down the stairs so her middle sister has to take her place and marry the Prince. It turns out that the prince is abusive and Kania’s only role is to provide a son and heir for the Prince. Marra realises that she has to save her sister from this evil man and so sets out on a quest gathering characters to help her on her way.

The story highlights arranged marriages and the union that they bring, in this case between two kingdoms where one has all the power and the other has the women. Bearing a son is all that is important and once that has been completed, the wife is no longer necessary.

There is a very slow-burn romance between Fenris, the complete opposite of the Prince, and Marra who I love the fact that they comment on the fact that she is 30 years old. Obviously in fairy tale land this is old to be single and she must be married off eventually but for love – a completely different kind of contract to her sister’s.

This was a completely cosy story, perfect for listening to as I gardened and one that I enjoyed.

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