Nettle and Bone

 Nettle and Bone, by T. Kingfisher

I tell you what, T. Kingfisher/Ursula Vernon is really fantastic.  What a great story.  I love that she takes the (possibly rather tired) fairy-tale retelling thing -- or just the fairy-tale style genre and wrenches it into a new shape that is sharp and truthful, not at all frilly, and also funny.

Marra is the youngest of three princesses in a tiny kingdom squished between two large and powerful realms.  Her parents are constantly walking a tightrope over an abyss, and the solution seems to be to marry the oldest daughter to the crown prince of the Northern Kingdom.  When Marra's beloved sister is killed in an accident just a few months later, the second sister is sent in her place and Marra, always awkward and difficult, is placed in a convent.  She stays there for years, learning many skills, and is quite happy.  When she's summoned to her sister's side, though, she realizes that Kania may be a queen, but she's also a prisoner to a sadistic husband.

Faced with the realities of international politics and their brutal toll on her family, Marra is desperate to save her sister.  It seems an impossible task.  But Marra is a stubborn woman, and she feels bound to try.  On her travels, she gathers a strange bunch of companions, including a bone dog, a demon chicken, and her own godmother.  Inch by inch, they try to accomplish the impossible -- but it's a fool's errand and they'll probably all die.

Fabulous story, highly recommended, I must read more Kingfisher.  Also, an ideal RIP read!


  1. Thank goodness it's not an X of Y and Z title, although it comes close. If this sort of plot can somehow also be funny , sign me up!

    1. It was! It's a dry, wry sort of humor, and it worked well for me.


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