Timy reviews T. Kingfisher‘s latest Fantasy novel, Nettle and Bone, set to be released on April 26th, 2022 by Titan Books.
An eARC was received by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.
|Series: standalone||Genre: Fantasy|
|Date of Publishing: April 26, 2022||Trigger Warnings: death, violence, slavery, abuse|
|Page count: 256||Publisher: Titan Books|
After years of seeing her sisters suffer at the hands of an abusive prince, Marra—the shy, convent-raised, third-born daughter—has finally realized that no one is coming to their rescue. No one, except for Marra herself.
Seeking help from a powerful gravewitch, Marra is offered the tools to kill a prince—if she can complete three impossible tasks. But, as is the way in tales of princes, witches, and daughters, the impossible is only the beginning.
On her quest, Marra is joined by the gravewitch, a reluctant fairy godmother, a strapping former knight, and a chicken possessed by a demon. Together, the five of them intend to be the hand that closes around the throat of the prince and frees Marra’s family and their kingdom from its tyrannous ruler at last.
“She didn’t know how to say what was in her head, that Fenris was a good man and maybe the weakness of being good was that evil didn’t occur to you.”
I had a hard time picking a song for Nettle and Bone. Ultimately, I settled on Hurts 2B Human by P!nk ft. Khalid, because to me this represents the companionship Marra shares with the people she travels with. And also the hurt she is going through knowing what she does. But at the end of the day there is hope, and friendship, and love. Plus, this song is a killer.
Before I get to my review, I have a confession: Nettle and Bone was the first book I’ve read from T. Kingfisher, even though some of my friends *looking at you Phil Williams* have been talking my ears off for a while now. When Nettle and Bone appeared on NetGalley, it sounded pretty interesting, so I decided it was time to make my acquaintance with the author and her work.
Nettle and Bone is the story of Marra, the third princess of a small kingdom that’s hard pressured to make an alliance to save themselves. This means they marry off the princesses to the Northern Kingdom, except for Marra who gets put aside in a convent until she can be married off too. Years pass, 16-year-old Marra grows into her thirties and through her friendship with the Apothecary, she learns how to deliver babies and generally help the villagers with medical care. Until, one day, she learns the truth about her sisters and their abusive marriages and decides she needs to put an end to it unless she’ll end up just like them. And thus, her adventure begins into magic, self-discovery, and new friendships.
Nettle and Bone uses some fairytale tropes and turns them inside out. The youngest princess goes on an adventure to help her siblings and to do so she has to complete three impossible tasks. Reading the blurb I expected the tasks to be the central plotline of the book, but turns out I was wrong – which is not necessarily a bad thing, mind. Actually, I liked the way it played out, although I also felt like the story needed a bit more worldbuilding, maybe. We never really get explained *how* exactly Marra was able to perform the tasks. Like, we get a description, but I still couldn’t help wondering if Marra had some powers on her own or not.
What I liked about Nettle and Bone was the relationship between the characters, how they supported each other and how a found family just grew before our eyes. The Prince and Fenris – one of Marra’s companions – were polar opposites, representing two male archetypes – the abusive toxic asshole and the caring, compassionate gentleman who respects boundaries. I especially liked the dust-wife and her no-nonsense ways. As for Marra, I could relate to her in some ways. She is cast aside, but she is still thriving in her own way. She also has an anxiety problem, overthinking everything, worrying about details others might not even think about. As someone who is dealing with anxiety myself, I felt seen more than once.
I admit this novel took me to places I didn’t expect and while it was a super easy read and I flew through the pages, I still ended up feeling like there was something missing. It felt more like a young adult novel in tone and writing than an adult one. Yes, it deals with topics such as domestic abuse, but it’s mostly off-screen. This is, once again, not a problem, just not what I was expecting, especially after the first couple of chapters, which totally hooked me, by the way. I can absolutely see why T. Kingfisher is loved by many, her prose is flowing with ease and you just can’t help but be immersed in her imagination.
Nettle and Bone is a fantasy novel built on typical fairytale tropes but giving them a new light that’s highly entertaining to read. It has a quest, a found family theme, and characters with unusual pets that are easy to connect with. And while this book did not turn me into a fan, it certainly convinced me that I need to take a deeper look into T. Kingfisher‘s work.