Following good stories wherever they lead
Marni lives on the edge of the forest, where she knows it isn’t safe.
It’s not just the stories — the girls who disappear, the trees that move in the night, advancing on cottages and farms. She’s seen for herself the flickering lights in the leaves, the chatter of voices and snatches of song, weird and inhuman. She knows the forest is aware, and watching, and there are things waiting for her in its shadows.
It isn’t safe. But it’s the best option she and her grandfather have, tending a garden of marvelous flowers on the edge of the forest.
Here, they can be safely ignored. The noblewomen still come to buy flowers, and the noblemen sit and talk with grandfather — but the king’s guards don’t come, and that’s what really matters.
Until the trees start to move again, the dragon flies once more, and Marni’s quiet life collapses. The time for hiding is over. Now, it’s time to fight for her life.
Marni’s voice in this story is just perfect — melodic, hypnotic, utterly captivating as she spins you into her world. She’s a fascinating character, as well, the quiet observer with a wry twist, she studies people from the vantage of Other as she struggles to understand herself. Raised as an outcast, she has connections to another world — the world of magic — that threatens even as it beckons to her.
But the world she lives in has its own dangers. A brutal king, a smiling queen, and an arrogant noble lord who claims to be her ally in a court swirling with plots and secrets. Marni soon finds that the castle is as perilous as the woods, in its own way. Not least in the way that the Lord of Ontrei constantly seeks to win her hand and heart, confounding her with his manner and her own desires. Meanwhile, the Lady of the forest sings to her from the trees, reminding her of things once forgotten, as Marni knits her own vengeance for the king.
I won’t go further into the plot, because this is a tale you must experience as it is spun. Imagine yourself in front of the fire on a dark winter’s night, wrapped in a blanket and listening to Marni’s voice.
And be prepared, for here lies dragons.