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Thornhedge, by T. Kingfisher

Review copy provided by the publisher.

This novella is a Sleeping Beauty retelling that asks: why would you imprison someone in a hedge of thorns? and comes up with the answer: because they were very dangerous indeed. Its villain is the beautiful princess, and she is an extremely nasty piece of work as only Ursula–oh, sorry, we’re pretending her name is “T.” today–can write a nasty piece of work villain, and this is only not one of her horror works because she spends most of the novella asleep.

Only most of it.

The protagonist is Toadling, the evil fairy who curses the beautiful princess. She is polite, and she tries hard, and she speaks some very wet languages. Toadling is not quite sure what to do, but she will try things until something works. I love her. I am in the curious position of loving this protag but not actually wanting more about her, because this story is very complete. Anything else would be tacked on. Her life is not complete, but her story arc is, there is a very satisfying beginning, middle, and end that are well balanced at novella length, which is hard to do.

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