This was not nearly as fluffy as I was expecting, and I loved that about it.
It seemed like the sort of thing that would be a light, frothy children's adventure story, and I was up for that. The premise of a strange wood and a princess and peasant girl who are interested in the mysteries behind it was probably going to end up with them learning the value of friendship or something.
Well, they probably did learn that, in the end, but wow, getting there was an entirely different story than the one I thought I was setting out to read.
This was dark.
I mean that in the best possible way. In fact, I'm rather awed by the ability to handle darkness and human nature and the idea of control and healthy emotions without it ever seeming to be too adult. These are absolutely adult ideas, and they don't feel dumbed down at all, but they also manage to be appropriately handled for children. This is a children's book--the protagonists are 12--but it's one of those children's books that transcends age in a way you don't see often in modern books. It is unapologetically dark and thoughtful, the sort of book I would have loved as a child and the sort of book I would love a child of mine to read.
The revelations genuinely surprised me a few times, though I had some pretty good guesses. Weaving my way through the mysteries was enjoyable enough that I followed the time-honored tradition of not putting the book down until I was done, to the detriment of my sleep. I don't regret it a bit.
This book was provided to me for free via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.