Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Year Release: April 2020
Source: Edelweiss ARC
|Read an ARC acquired via Edelweiss
Content and trigger warnings include: Death of siblings, death of friends, light body horror
With so much secondary-world young adult fantasy taking place in a vaguely-Russian and vaguely-Eastern-European-inspired aesthetic, I was beyond excited for a book that went into specific folktales from my home country of Poland. Largely inspired by “The Glass Mountain,” this dual-POV story tells of a Wolf-lord trying to discover what happened to his brothers as they went back to the Moving Mountains and a forest queen trying to save her kingdom from new devils.
I really enjoyed the world-building in this one. The story takes place in a more technology-advanced world with firearms alongside swords, where magic is something studied in schools, and there’s a whole society of Unnaturalists. In addition to the fantastic mix of monsters, these details made the world feel lived in. My skin crawled at every mention of the strzygi, but even more so at the ways the village people deal with them. It all felt familiar, but awfully specific, which is a great balance when approaching retellings.
Family both found and given presents strongly in this work as well. It features on a variety of levels, but most of those veer into spoiler-territory. I particularly enjoyed Ren’s arc because the pay-off on destiny vs. work is just so good. The pacing is just right from start to finish. The way Ross peppers in details about Lukasz’s brothers also weave so naturally into the narrative, without having to be so explicit about what took place in the past vs. the present.
A whimsical fairy tale from start to finish featuring fearsome dragons, brave hunters, headstrong princesses, and wild magic based on Polish folklore.