From highly acclaimed, bestselling author Ava Reid comes a gothic horror retelling of The Juniper Tree, set in another time and place within the world of The Wolf and the Woodsman, where a young witch seeks to discover her identity and escape the domination of her abusive wizard father, perfect for fans of Shirley Jackson and Catherynne M. Valente.
A gruesome curse. A city in upheaval. A monster with unquenchable appetites.
Marlinchen and her two sisters live with their wizard father in a city shifting from magic to industry. As Oblya’s last true witches, she and her sisters are little more than a tourist trap as they treat their clients with archaic remedies and beguile them with nostalgic charm. Marlinchen spends her days divining secrets in exchange for rubles and trying to placate her tyrannical, xenophobic father, who keeps his daughters sequestered from the outside world. But at night, Marlinchen and her sisters sneak out to enjoy the city’s amenities and revel in its thrills, particularly the recently established ballet theater, where Marlinchen meets a dancer who quickly captures her heart.
As Marlinchen’s late-night trysts grow more fervent and frequent, so does the threat of her father’s rage and magic. And while Oblya flourishes with culture and bustles with enterprise, a monster lurks in its midst, borne of intolerance and resentment and suffused with old-world power. Caught between history and progress and blood and desire, Marlinchen must draw upon her own magic to keep her city safe and find her place within it.
Reid's darkly enchanting second fairy tale retelling (after The Wolf and the Woodsman) takes on "The Juniper Tree." Zmiy Vashchenko is the last true wizard in Oblya, and he keeps his three witch-daughters locked away in their crumbling home. The only people the women are allowed to interact with are the clients who pay for their respective powers. Undine sees people's futures in her scrying pool; Rosenrot is an herbalist who creates healing poultices and potions; and the youngest, Marlinchen, is a flesh diviner, able to read people through the touch of their skin. When the girls sneak out to the ballet one night, Marlinchen catches the attention of the lead dancer, Sevastyan Reskin. Later, Sevastyan's handler brings him to their home looking for a cure for his peculiar malady, and when Zmiy notices Marlinchen's interest, he further tightens his grip on his daughters. Life within the Vashchenko house becomes ever more dangerous for the women and life in Oblya isn't any safer. There's a monster plaguing the streets, and Marlinchen is especially haunted by the deaths. Reid fully embraces the darkness of the original tale while adding enough twists to make the story her own. Grimms' fairy tale fans and those who like their fairy tales grim will be thrilled. Agent: Sarah Landis, Sterling Lord Literistic.