- Gist: New fairy tale woven from the wool of Grimms’; one story made of interlocking narratives of young women among monsters in a fantasy version of late-medieval Lithuania.
- Author: Naomi Novik, who grasps the visceral power of folk fairy tales and how to write them for a new audience without losing the timeless voice. Magic, indeed.
- Writing: Imminently readable, lyric, often beautiful.
- Contexting: An unforced feminist reworking of the fairy tale; not with girls so STRONG they aren’t even believable, but with normal girls thrust into trouble they didn’t cause, fighting with courage, smarts, and cooperation to save what they love.
- Society: Gives some feel of what it was to be poor, to be a Jew, and to be a woman in this world–your life was not your own and never would be.
- Violence: Violence is common, it sometimes must be met with violence, but it never solves the deep problems that cause it.
Conclusion: I don’t want to oversell this book and thereby reduce it, but I expect almost anyone who likes to read will enjoy it.