It’s no secret by now that I love Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s Tales of Goldstone Woods series. Her books have a way of gripping you by the hand and plunging your into a faerie world so fierce and real and strange and true all at once, that you are carried away, like one dragged by the Sylphs, to a place beyond your time.
Shadow Hand was no exception. The characters did not instantly grab me as they have in previous Goldstone Woods books. But wait, I thought you said Shadow Hand was no exception? Indeed. Let me explain.
I could sympathize with many of the characters and was eager to follow the story since it did concern so many familiar faces, but I did not instantly fall in love with the main characters.
In many ways, they were quite unlovely.
Foxbrush: weak, afraid, bumbling and awkward in his best efforts.
Daylily: selfish, proud, cold, running so far from what she fears that she becomes something worse.
Very flawed heroes, aren’t they? And yet somehow, made more beautiful because of it.
To my mind, this is a part of the beautiful truth of Shadow Hand, the concept of loving the unlovely. Of weakness becoming strength when surrendered. I can be quite unlovely at times. Can’t we all? And yet there is a love that never fails.
The most cutting jests bear the edge of truth. A lie is strongest when it latches onto a strand of truth. Likewise, fantasy is the most strange and fantastical when it is rooted in truth and has its foundation in reality. And this, I believe, is a part of what makes the Tales of Goldstone Woods, and Shadow Hand, such beautiful, fascinating reads.
So if you haven’t yet snatched up your copy of Shadow Hand, I highly suggest you do so! (That way you’ll understand what this snippet means …)