If you value your life, stay out of the forest.
As a captive of the Owl Queen’s Court, Nascha’s life has always been one knife’s edge away from disaster. But when she is threatened for nothing more than the colour of her hair, Nascha attempts the unthinkable: escape through the dreaded Magpie King’s forest.
Hunted by sharp toothed and sharper witted foxfolk, and hated by all for being a witch, Nascha fears herself doomed until she joins forces with a mysterious young man. With him she finds a glimmer of hope, even as her own unpredictable powers flicker into existence.
But hope is fleeting.
The forces arrayed against her are insurmountable, and Nascha soon comes to realise that pursuit of her own freedom will come at a greater cost to the forest. As the darkness closes in around them, Nascha is forced to ask:
At what price is she willing to purchase her life?
How dearly is she willing to sell it?
Goodreads link: From the Shadows of the Owl Queen’s Court (Yarnsworld #4)
Author: Benedict Patrick
Genre: Dark Fantasy/Folktale
Rating: 5/5 stars
I have to thank SPFBO for introducing me to Benedict Patrick because he’s become one of my favorite authors. I’m always waiting for the next Yarnsworld book. I read this last year right when it came out, but I was too busy to write a review. Now that it’s in SPFBO 5, I wanted to share my thoughts.
The Yarnsworld stories always feature a unique setting with some type of mythical creature causing problems. There have been hints all along that these different locations and the mythical creatures are connected in some way. If you’ve read along with the series, this book gives you another piece of the larger puzzle.
This is the first time the narrative returns to a previous book’s location, the forest from They Mostly Come Out at Night and the Magpie King. It’s exciting to see how the forest has changed from the first book, including the Magpie King. There were also mentions of the Owl Queen before, but now we get to learn more about the Owl Queen’s Court and what powers this creature grants. There are two more mythical creatures that also get added to the mix, which really amps this story up to a whole new level.
The action in this story is non-stop, but fortunately, we still get to read folktales from the world between the main narrative. I love these folktales because they feel so like real stories from cultures and they show the diversity of this world. In fantasy, some authors just make one or two cultures which are lazy copies of (typically) pseudo-medieval European countries. Patrick is one author who puts a lot more work into his world building and I love to immerse myself in these peoples.
There is also the dark fantasy twist which adds elements of horror. These aren’t pretty fairy tales, they’re folktales in the old style, nodding to collections like The Brothers Grimm. The imagery is haunting and sticks with you. My dreams are always disturbed after I read one of these books, but that just shows how much it affects me.
I highly recommend all the Yarnsworld books to fans of The Brothers Grimm, Gregory Maguire, and Tanith Lee. I also suggest that you read them with the lights on!