I am a complete sucker for fairy tales. (What is a romance novel but a tale of a disguised princess and her happily ever after?) Previously I would have said that there are two sides to every fairy tale, the Princess and the Witch. What I forget, of course, are all the people who line the lanes to cheer the happy couple on. Not every face in the crowd is a joyful one. Tanith Lee used to do some lovely off center fairy tales. So did Robin McKinley. Being able to take a familiar story and breathe new life into it without undermining the original is a rare talent. Tia Nevitt appears to have it in abundance.
The Sevenfold Spell opens shortly after the birth of Princess Aurora, the soon to be sleeping beauty. In their grief, the King and Queen have ordered all spinning wheels destroyed. But spinners still need to feed their families. People still require thread. The village economy is in a shambles because of the actions of those leading it. (Timely, no?) Talia is a girl of no great beauty who has a comfortable life planned. Through her own labor she has learned to spin, saved a dowry, and befriended an equally common man. But it is Aurora who must be protected, not Talia.
The spinners don’t happily turn over their wheels. There is no subsidized job retraining program for the newly unemployed. With no beauty, no livelihood and no income, Talia finds life a lot less comfortable. Like many a woman before her, Talia has defined her own worth through the cruel comments of others. So if Talia cannot have what she wants, she will want what she can get. If no one will protect her, she will protect herself. Purity and perfection are for princesses, pragmatism and persistence are traits that serve peasants well. This is a fun novella with some unexpected depth. Definitely worth the money and further proof that Carina Press was a great idea.