Recently, I read another novella by this writer, Bryony and Roses, and loved it. My 4.5-star review is here. I didn’t like this story, The Seventh Bride, as much – it was darker, teetering on the edge between fantasy, fairy tale, and horror, but it was a good read all the same.
The protagonist, fifteen-year-old Rhea, is a miller’s daughter. She is sensible, capable, and kind. When Lord Craven proposes to marry her, she is sure something is wrong. Lords don’t marry millers’ daughters, but the times are lean, her father’s mill is in debt, and Rhea knows she can’t refuse. No peasant can refuse a lord without dire consequences.
The story is a loose retelling (very loose) of the fairy tale Bluebeard. Rhea’s adventures in Lord Craven’s manor are eerie, almost haunting. She doesn’t get in trouble because of her curiosity, like the Bluebeard heroine does. No, Rhea’s problems are deeper, residing in the lord himself. He is an evil sorcerer, and to defeat him, Rhea needs all her courage and wit and kindness. And the help of her friends.
One of her most charming friends is her familiar, a hedgehog – the source of most humor in this tale. How often do you read about brave and clever hedgehogs with a tendency to mock stupid behavior? This one was my first, and I enjoyed every page with the hedgehog in it. The other pages too. All in all, a very good book.