Prince Rashko can't stop worrying. His parents are missing. His brother Paulek doesn't believe anything is wrong and thinks Rashko needs to stop beingPrince Rashko can't stop worrying. His parents are missing. His brother Paulek doesn't believe anything is wrong and thinks Rashko needs to stop being so concerned. That's easy for Paulek to say and impossible for Rashko to do. In his mind, Rashko has to do all the thinking for his family or at least that's the way he sees it. His parents, the king and queen, are too trusting. and don't take the precautions Rashko thinks they should. They see the world simply and Rashko's older brother Paulek is just like them.
Thankfully there are people with sense to help them like Georgi, the castle steward. It's Georgi who convinces Rashko to take another look at his parents room where the prince discovers an enchanted invitation lying discarded. An invitation that directed his parents straight to faerie.
The king and queen have disappeared at the worst possible time. An uninvited guest shows up at their tiny kingdom. Baron Tenmy doesn't have a good night's rest on his mind or a welcome feast. He wants their home for himself. Rashko needs to find a way to get Paulek's attention off Tenmy's daughter and onto the danger.
Intertwined throughout Rashko's tale is the story of Pavol, another young prince who lived long before. He too fled a dangerous foe, the only survivor of his childhood home. He has to face ridicule, challenges, dragons and more to protect his new home from the same fate as his first.
Bruchac's retelling of a Slovakian fairy tale makes for an interesting middle grade fantasy read. This is not a fast-paced action story. Rather, reading this book is like figuring out a puzzle. Everything has a role and you have to know the pieces to understand the big picture. Gypsies, magical dogs and knowing elders add to the tapestry of this book.
In Toads and Diamonds, Heather Tomlinson has created a novel based on the fairy tale of the same name. Diribani's life has turned upside down since thIn Toads and Diamonds, Heather Tomlinson has created a novel based on the fairy tale of the same name. Diribani's life has turned upside down since the death of her father, a jewel merchant. She and her stepsister Tana struggle to keep things going while her stepmother has been nearly incapacitated with grief. Diribani and Tana are working with Kalyan, the son of their father's competitor, on appraising some jewels in hopes of securing some livelihood for a little longer.
This plan is broken when one day changes the fortunes of both young women in a most supernatural way. While fetching water for Tana and her stepmother, Diribani gives water and assistance to a stranger. This stranger is revealed to be Nigahli-Ji, a goddess. Now when Diribani speaks, flowers and jewels drop from her mouth.
When Tana rushes to the same well in hopes of helping the family as well, she refuses to accept water or help from a woman at the end. Realizing too late that she had also met Nigahli-Ji, Tana assumes she is to die. Instead, she finds that all manner of frogs and snakes escape her mouth when she speaks.
Both girls' gifts draw the dangerous attention of governor Alwar. An attempt is made on Diribani's life and she finds herself traveling in the company of Prince Zahir and his sister. Tana retreats to a temple. Both girls encounter dangers, heartache and learning as they struggle to find how best to use their gifts. Plague begins to sweep their district as Tana tries to rescue trapped villagers and Diribani is kidnapped.
While I enjoyed the climactic part of the book near the end, I did find myself somewhat disappointed that the actual ending came as soon as it did. I wanted to see how Tana and Diribani carried on their lives after that point, as well as how things would proceed with Kalyan and Zahid....more