Scurvyhead and Sir Goldmayne are two French-Canadian fairytales I’d never even heard of, but honestly – there are so many, and they’re all so RANDOM. I’m still not quite sure what the point of some of them are, but these two are good ones with enough thematic similarities that author Kate Spradling morphed them into one novel.
Duncan is not a fan of fairy tales. Oh, yeah, he believes in magic – it’s hard not to when it’s staring you in the face, but fairytales? Meh. His father is an abusive alcoholic, and reality is rather close at hand. When he finally runs away from home and is found sleeping in a ditch by Old Dame Groach, however, fairytales start believing in him. He’s to tend her entire estate for a few coins, take special care of her poisonous garden, stay out of one room with a locked door and …viciously beat a white horse every night before sundown. Wha??
Things go quickly from “what?” to “Oh, nu-uh,” when he discovers that the horse can talk.
I thought this story would be Bluebeard or something – the locked door suggested this – but the adventure just kept turning wilder and more unexpected corners. It’s the buddy movie/bromance aspect. It’s the unexpectedly grim situations. It’s the practical reasons behind the pretty girl. It’s just everything unexpected, which makes it so, so good. That’s the thing I love about this author’s work – inevitably, I just think I’ll sit down and read “for a sec” and then I’ve got hold of the end of this rope, and it yanks me off my feet, into Story, and away I go. I tend to read Stradling books in one sitting. Her knowledge of European history and just a lot of random factoids about science and time periods and all kinds of things make her writing fascinating. Not all of her work is specifically YA fantasy, but even her adult stuff works for general readership.
I’ll be reviewing more of my favorite Stradling books as I have time – meanwhile, I’ve started reading something by Jilly Wood – we’ll see where that takes me!
Once upon a time, a boy left where he was to go somewhere better. First he landed somewhere much, much worse. And then he remembered: you make your own luck. Thank you, Kate.
Until the next book,
A Constant Reader