Review by Booklist Review
A golden crown, said to be a gift of friendship, is all that stands between the dark forest and the city of Aloriya. But the woods have started claiming townsfolk, and Cerys' best friend, the crown princess, is among the latest victims of the woodcursed. Cerys vows to save her home by using her special talents to find the Lady of the Wilds, said to live in a legendary city called Voryn. She undertakes the quest, accompanied by an odd companion, Fox--once an animal and now human--and discovers dark secrets, misunderstandings, and the opportunity to make a new beginning. Poston presents a true fairy tale, with transformations, unlikely love, and magical artifacts that are not what they seem. The pacing never lags, and readers will find themselves catching their breath as events escalate. Content following the author's afterword indicates this is not the last we will hear from this cast of characters. Try this with fans of Kathryn Purdie's Bone Crier's Moon (2020) or Margaret Owen's Merciful Crow series for more dark tales.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 7 Up--Poston's quiet writing style gives life to an original, spine-tingling fairy tale perfect for middle schoolers who are venturing into the world of YA. The country of Aloriya tells a story about the king's magical crown: a gift from the Lady of the Wilds in the magical city of Voryn to the first king, as eternal protection from the Woods. That story is a lie. Cerys's blood can bring forests to life--a curse leftover from her trip into the Woods, when she and the Princess Anwen were the only survivors. When Anwen's coronation is interrupted by a woodcursed stranger and bone-eaters who are after the crown, Cerys takes it and runs for the Wildwood. With Fox and their new friend Bear to help evade their new enemies, Cerys makes for Voryn. Poston cut her teeth on retellings; this is her first original fairy tale, and it's the perfect balance of heartwarming adventure and creepy monsters. There are unanswered questions that keep the story from being entirely satisfying, but open up the possibility for more original fairy tales. The casual assumption of bisexuality lends the impression that queer relationships are the norm in this world. The majority of the cast is white--Cerys is pale with freckles, Anwen has blonde hair and blue eyes--but there is mention of darker skin tones among peripheral characters. VERDICT Naomi Novik's Uprooted for a younger audience, Poston has written a soft, romantic standalone that should be considered an additional purchase for libraries where fantasy is popular.--Emmy Neal, Lake Forest Lib., IL
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
A lowly gardener's daughter enters the cursed Wildwood to save her kingdom. Cerys, the royal gardener's daughter, always believed she would stay in Village-in-the-Valley, inheriting the care of the castle's flowers from her father. With only Princess Anwen, her father, and a mischievous fox for friendship, Cerys has accepted her quiet life, which includes being gossiped about by others for the magic in her blood that, when spilled, causes greenery to grow exponentially. As Cerys mourns missing loved ones, Anwen's upcoming coronation looms; as ruler, her friend will wear the crown of Aloriya, whose magic keeps the evil of the Wilds at bay. When the coronation is disrupted by the woodcurse, Cerys and the fox rush into the Wildwood, searching for the possibly mythical city of Voryn in hopes of saving the kingdom. Beautifully dark and descriptive prose creates a grim fairy-tale atmosphere that blends with horrific descriptions of bone-eaters, twisted magic, and the ominous adventure through the Wilds. The voice of Cerys, whose lack of self-confidence makes her a convincingly unwilling hero, contrasts with the talking fox's witty narration. The romance is relatively low-key, and the developing trust and friendship between characters shines. Some aspects may feel familiar to fans of this genre, but the writing and pacing will sweep readers along. Main characters are White; queerness is accepted without comment in this world. A deliciously dark coming-of-age fairy tale brimming with magic, monsters, and hope. (Fantasy. 13-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.