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Nettle & Bone

By: T. Kingfisher
Narrated by: Amara Jasper
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Summary

After years of seeing her sisters suffer at the hands of an abusive prince, Marra—the shy, convent-raised third-born daughter—has finally realized that no one is coming to their rescue. No one, except for Marra herself.

Seeking help from a powerful gravewitch, Marra is offered the tools to kill a prince—if she can complete three impossible tasks. But, as is the way in tales of princes, witches and daughters, the impossible is only the beginning.

On her quest, Marra is joined by the gravewitch, a reluctant fairy godmother, a strapping former knight and a chicken possessed by a demon. Together, the five of them intend to be the hand that closes around the throat of the prince and frees Marra's family and their kingdom from its tyrannous ruler at last.

©2022 T Kingfisher (P)2022 W F Howes

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I haven't read anything quite like this before

Quirky. That's how I would describe Nettle & Bone in one word. This book is like a breath of fresh air that very likely pulled me out of the beginnings of a reading slump.

It's a perfect fairy tale for an adult reader:

It's dark, and not just in the aesthetic sense. There are some pretty heavy themes that the author doesn't shy away from, yet she presents them in a way that isn't jarring and can still fit in well with the rest of the story. Though very light, I would still recommend checking out any potential trigger warnings (domestic violence, physical abuse, and miscarriage, off the top of my head).

It's very funny. All of the characters are flawed in some quirky way which creates an opportunity for humour which is sprinkled throughout the story and offsets some of the heavier moments. I mean, there is a chicken possessed by a demon and a dog made out of bones, need I say more?

It's relatable. None of the characters are what we usually see in a fairy tale. Marra is a 30-year-old princess / would-be nun. Fenris is a hulk of muscle but he's quiet, pensive, and self-conscious. Agnes is kooky and somewhat useless. And Lady Fox? (Seriously, what is her name?) Well, she's the only capable one, but she's surly and sarcastic and bosses everyone around.

It's heart-warming without being tacky. Nettle & Bone uses typical fairy tale stereotypes but does it in a very clever way that allows it to remain fresh and original. There is a hint of angst, but it's very delicate. Given the timespan of the story and the characters' well,... characters..., it makes perfect sense and I appreciate the author stayed away from a typical run-of-the-mill undercooked romance trope. The main focus is on the quest which is driven by sisterly love and the need to do what's right, even through the most unorthodox means.

It's very atmospheric. Because of the nature of the story, it takes the reader everywhere from a palace to a cursed forest, a witch's cottage, a goblin market and one more fantastic local I cannot mention because that would be spoiling things (it's so good though!). It's an absolutely perfect read for autumn or any cold, rainy day.

While this book could easily have been twice as long and dived much deeper into its themes, I appreciate it for what it is - a well-structured, well-balanced, and very entertaining easy read. A modern fairy tale with traditional gothic vibes, suitable for anyone who, like me, is over the moon that it's finally autumn :)

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Unexpected delight

This book was recommended in the comments section of the Guardian newspaper’s annual review of sci-fi and fantasy. The review itself was underwhelming. A reader however mentioned a few books I really liked as well as this one. I decided to give this a try and I was not disappointed, a lovely find. Humorous, fun with great characters. Loved it