In this case, the author of Bearskin went to high school with one of my favorite of my hubby’s cousins, and so she (the cousin, not the author) asked me if I would like to read it and review it on my blog. I hesitated initially because I don’t read a ton of youth fantasy anymore, but I am fond of fairy tale retellings, and so I said yes with the disclaimer that I might not get to it right away.
Which I haven’t.
It did make its way up my to-read list, however, and so I finally picked it up with the intention of doing a bit of a speed read. (Because I really don’t read a lot of youth fantasy anymore. Unless, of course, it’s written by Robin McKinley, but since her husband died in December, I’m not expecting to see anything new from her any time soon.) Interestingly, while I started out at an almost-skim, the book ended up thoroughly engrossing me in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible. The first several scenes took me by surprise (I am in no way familiar with the original fairy tale), and while I wondered just how invested I would become in the fate of the witch’s children (both step and biological), I ended up lost in the story. The journeys of the three young people were not at all what I expected, and while the endings of two of those journeys were relatively predictable (there is a certain structure to fairy tales, after all), the evolution of the third surprised me from beginning to end.
Okay, I’m not sure how much more I want to say; I don’t want to be guilty of spoilers, and some stories are hard to describe without any. What I will say is that while it’s not perfectly written, the quality of the writing surprised me. I noticed on Goodreads that several people thought it started out too slowly, but that didn’t bother me. It took me a bit to get emotionally involved with the characters, perhaps, but enough was happening in the meantime to keep me reading. Bottom line? If you like fairy tale retellings, I wholeheartedly recommend this one.