ARC Review: NETTLE AND BONE by T. Kingfisher

I received an eARC from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in white on dark grey with brown diamond and white skulls
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: standalone

Synopsis:

Book cover for NETTLE AND BONE: title in white bones on grey with brown details around skull,

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.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

NETTLE AND BONE is such a fun, quirky story. I’ve never read anything by T. Kingfisher before but I’ve heard such good things about her books, and this story shows me why they’ve been recommended so much.

It’s gentle and fun and uplifting and so wonderfully quirky, all of it with real heart. It’s the complete opposite of grimdark – “uplifting fantasy”, if that’s a thing (if not, it really should be!) There is threat, but it doesn’t feel grim. Rather there’s perpetual hope and joy that makes this such a wonderful read.

There are elements of fairy stories in here, like godmothers, goblin markets, and impossible tasks, all bound together into a new story that delivers them in a really unique way. I loved the way the different magic systems worked together. It all felt like such a clever use of the magic and lore to get around the problem, rather than just using brute force.

It’s also a found family story, in a way, as well as a blood family story. Both Marra’s blood family and the band of found family she accidentally gathers around her play such an important role. She’s out to save her sister, who she has a somewhat difficult relationship with, with the aid of two cranky grandmother/aunt figures (one of whom is related by blood.) The dynamics work so well.

This is also a book about characters who aren’t early twenties and relatively fresh-faced. While we do see Marra grow up, for most of the book, she’s at least thirty, her strapping knight is forty, and the crotchety aunt figures are much older. It’s these somewhat crotchety, very much sly, and generally nice “aunt” figures who are certainly the standout characters of the book. And, overall, I really liked seeing older characters play a central role in fantasy.

I will be looking up T. Kingfisher’s other work soon!

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