THE HUSBAND TEST, Betina Krahn. Eloise is a novice whose independent ways are taxing Mother Superior’s patience. Peril, Earl of Whitmore, is a master warrior, but his estate is in disarray because of a curse and he needs a wife to break it. The abbess sends Eloise with Peril to “judge” him and figure out who at the Convent of the Brides of Virtue will best suit him. Their romantic journey is a delight, although Peril may strike some as too aloof. Give it at try and decide for yourself.
THE HANDMAID’S TALE, Margaret Atwood. I haven’t seen the Hulu series, so I can’t compare the two. This is a chilling dystopian tale about the Republic of Gilead, where handmaidens belong to their “masters” and are expected to reproduce. Atwood isn’t the easiest author to read–she foregoes quotation marks, for example–and the pace can be slow, but this book is a classic you shouldn’t miss.
THE HOLLOW KINGDOM, Claire B. Dunkle. I enjoyed this book so much I wrote to the author and received a lovely note in response. Kate is taken by the goblin king, Marak, to be his wife, which sounds like a familiar trope, and might bother modern sensibilities. But Dunkle is such a lovely writer you can’t help but be swept up in the tale. Kate is intelligent and quick-witted, Marak an irreverent charmer. And the goblin kingdom, far from expectations, has a beauty of its own. The first, and best, of a trilogy.
WANT TO READ
HUNTED, Meagan Spooner. To save her father, Yeva hunts a strange creature into a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that she’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast? Another retelling of the classic tale.
Young adult reads—all first books in series—for this round.
THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, Rae Carson. A thrilling fantasy about a sixteen-year-old, flawed heroine who becomes the secret wife of a king and is stalked by savage enemies harboring dark magic. If she fulfills a prophecy, she could be a savior. If not, she’ll die young. A quick-paced read and the beginning of an intriguing trilogy.
GRAVE MERCY, Robin LaFevers. I adore this book. LaFevers sweeps you into 15th century France with the story of seventeen-year-old Ismae, who escapes a brutal arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where nuns serve the gods of old. She’s trained as an assassin, a handmaiden to Death, and thrust into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared. Beautifully written, engaging, and the first in LaFever’s fabulous His Fair Assassin trilogy.
THE GOOSE GIRL, Shannon Hale. Loosely adapted from the fairy tale. Ani is a princess who spends the first years of her life listening to her aunt’s incredible stories and learning the language of the birds. Her story isn’t always pretty, and the beginning can be a bit slow, but overall you can’t help but root for the girl who accepts her “destiny” while looking for ways to shape her world. First in the Books of Bayern series.
WANT TO READ
GODDESS OF THE SEA, P.C. Cast. I’m always on the lookout for a good mermaid story and this one sounds promising. From Goodreads: “. . . a series about normal women transformed by their willingness to believe in the spark of the Feminine Devine that makes all women magical . . . celebrates the female viewpoint and the joys to be found in the care of tending of beauty in whatever form it’s found, whether it’s nature, art, or humanity.” First in the Goddess Summoning series.