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Alphabet of thorn
Patricia A. McKillip
Adult Fiction MCKILLI

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Those who have bemoaned the death of the true fairy tale will be delighted by this charming foray from World Fantasy Award-winner McKillip (Ombria in Shadow). She skillfully weaves together two eras and two sets of believable characters to create a single spellbinding story that brilliantly modernizes a beautiful old formula: the clever orphaned foundling has no desire to seek out her parents nor ambition for high office; the powerful wizard is a disguised woman deeply in love with the conquering king, who treats his subjects kindly; the sullen young queen catapulted to her throne by her father's unexpected death turns out to have both skill and humor in unexpected places; the haughty witch finds herself honestly baffled by turns of events that she never predicted. Moreover, where another author might have played up slapstick clumsiness for cheap laughs, McKillip evokes compassion for the characters' frustrations as they take their befuddled steps toward their predestined meeting. Best of all, the strong female leads neither rail against nor submit to patriarchy. In this magical world blissfully free of bias, people are simply themselves, equally intelligent and witty and thoroughly capable while prone to the occasional error, in a manner that transcends feminism and becomes a celebration of essential humanity. The brisk sweep to the slightly abrupt conclusion leaves the reader longing for more. (Feb. 3) Forecast: The small trim size and the exquisite, gentle jacket art that evokes classic fairy tale volumes will grab the attention of YA readers. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

The day that the new queen of Raine is crowned, a translator working in the palace receives a book written in a strange language of thornlike characters. As Nepenthe, the translator, unlocks the language's secret, she learns of a legend from the ancient past that involves her and the queen in an intrigue that threatens the kingdom itself. McKillip (Ombria in Shadow) creates the atmosphere of a fairy tale with her elegantly lyrical prose and attention to nuance. Her characters are at once intimately personal and larger than life. This belongs in most fantasy collections and is suitable for both adult and YA readers. Highly recommended. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Nepenthe
Comes to possess a strange book written in an unrecognizable alphabet; works in the royal palace.

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