I remember the first time I cracked open The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe—I was ten or so, I think? Like the Pevensy children, I fell right into the world of Narnia and never looked back. I didn’t need to get used to the world or think too hard about justifying the magical system. I just lived and breathed the story. For me, any good fantasy story must have that same element of naturalness. If I can’t fall right into it, it’s probably not the fantasy story for me.
That feeling of naturalness is the first thing that struck me (when I stopped to think about it, which I didn’t right away because the story was so compelling) about Emma C. Fox’s soon-to-be-released The Carver and the Queen. The story follows Petr, an orphaned Russian serf who longs to become a renowned and succesful carver of malachite, and Lena, the housemaid to Petr’s teacher who likewise dreams of better things, particularly things better than the arranged marriage to the town’s cruel bailiff. In the process of chasing his dream and his chance to win his and Lena’s freedom, Petr falls into league with Malachanitsa, a cunning sorceress, queen of the underground malachite kingdom.
The limited magical elements (no keeping track of complicated systems here!) and battles between gain and selflessness, good versus evil—and of course the alluring evil queen—kept up the Narnia vibes throughout the entire story. It also reminded me, in its fantasy/historical setting and lyrical prose, of Shannon Hale’s early works, particularly The Goose Girl and the other Books of Bayern. It would probably appeal most to readers of the same age as those books as well—advanced 11-year-old readers through teens (and adults, as well!).
The Carver and the Queen releases October 3, but you can preorder it now. Many thanks to Owl’s Nest Publishers for the review copy of this book—my delighted opinions are entirely my own.
Hi! I'm Faith. I blog about books and creativity, family and faith. Welcome!