Elements from many different fairy tales combine in this story that works as a prequel to Mahoney’s “Twelve Dancing Princesses” retelling The Storyteller and Her Sisters. If you missed it, be sure to read my latest interview with Cheryl.
The Lioness and the Spellspinners by Cheryl Mahoney. Stonehenge Circle Press, 2016.
The life of peace- and yarn-loving Forrest is disrupted by the sudden arrival of an armed and trousers-wearing young woman in his family’s barn. He doesn’t trust her at all – but his family seems determined to welcome her. For her part, Karina doesn’t trust people who are as open and welcoming as Forrest’s mother and gaggle of younger sisters. His distrust seems much more appropriate. But when random bits of magic start appearing around the farm – the horse starts speaking in rhyme, the eggs have gold-plated shells – Karina and Forrest reluctantly team up to figure out what to do. Soon the trouble that Karina was running from catches up to both of them – trouble that could have horrific consequences for everyone on Forrest’s tiny island.
The story is set in what I would describe as Renaissance Faire era, a comfortable setting focused solidly on the fun of the story. In a historical setting, for example, Karina’s trousers would be much more shocking. Here, Forrest doesn’t seem to have too much trouble accepting the trousers, Karina’s independence or her remarkable abilities with knives. She, on the other hand, takes some time to come to terms with his knitting (and appreciate the beauty of the local yarn), though he is untroubled and says that everyone on their island knits. As with the other books in the series, this is a feel-good adventure with appeal for everyone from middle grade kids who won’t be put off by mild romance up to adults.
There’s another knitting fairy tale hero in Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Midnight Ball, also a “Twelve Dancing Princesses” retelling.