STARRED REVIEW
September 15, 2016

A fairy-tale heroine above them all

By Hannah West
Review by

A lowly kitchen maid turned shapeshifter fights against evil forces in Hannah West’s enchanting debut.

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A lowly kitchen maid turned shapeshifter fights against evil forces in Hannah West’s enchanting debut.

Sixteen-year-old Bristal’s life is spared when elicromancers (shapeshifters) Brack and Tamarice rescue her from kidnappers determined to prove that she possesses magical powers. Bristal is surprised to discover her shapeshifting powers, and Brack and Tamarice acknowledge that she is the third in a group of remaining elicomancers. While the duty of elicomancers is to protect mortals, discord arises when Tamarice chooses the dark side of elicromancy. Casting a cruel spell during a royal child’s naming day is just the beginning of Tamarice’s machinations to overcome the realm of Nissera. Bristal takes on several guises to protect the cursed princess as well as to recover a lost duchess. But saving Nissera is more difficult than expected, especially when Tamarice seeks to destroy Bristal’s power.

Bristal, the mistress of disguises, shares common qualities of kindness and meekness as the other female characters she helps—Rosemund, the cursed princess (Sleeping Beauty), and Elinor, the lost duchess (Cinderella). But unlike her regal friends, Bristal is an amazing heroine, and her account is just as intriguing, if not more so, as the beloved fairy tales. Careful readers may catch glimpses from other stories, such as Jane Austen’s Emma and the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan. West’s narrative is replete with an unforgettable cast and wondrously descriptive, imaginative scenes.

A spellbinding, one-of-a kind fairy tale, Kingdom of Ash and Briars is a perfect balance of drama, comedy and romance.

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Kingdom of Ash and Briars

Kingdom of Ash and Briars

By Hannah West
Holiday House
ISBN 9780823436514

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