Nettle & Bone
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About the Author
“Deeply satisfying and darkly funny feminist fairytale…. At its heart a story of good people doing their best to make the unjust world a fairer place, this marvelous romp will delight Kingfisher’s fans and fairytale lovers alike.”―Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Blending fairy-tale familiarity and common-sense characters, Kingfisher’s prose balances grim circumstances with humor and heart. Readers of Alix E. Harrow’s A Spindle Splintered and Melissa Albert’s ‘The Hazel Wood’ series should pick this up immediately.” ―Library Journal, starred review
“Kingfisher is an inventive fantasy powerhouse, and Nettle & Bone represents the burgeoning “hopepunk” ethos at its finest, with its winsome characters and focus on their fight to make the world a better place.”―Bookpage, starred review
“Clever and bold-hearted . . . this rollicking feminist fairy tale is filled with redemption, community and courage, its dark passages the road to a satisfyingly uplifting endgame.”―Shelf Awareness, starred review
“Nettle & Bone leans into the macabre and evokes the Grimm-est of stories… Highly recommended for fans of fractured fables like Naomi Novik’s Uprooted (2015) and Helen Oyeyemi’s Gingerbread (2019).” ―Booklist, starred review
“Nettle & Bone is full of delights and surprises―and proves that [Kingfisher] has more than a few tricks left up her sleeve.”―Locus
“With NETTLE & BONE, T. Kingfisher solidifies her place as natural and inevitable heir to the greats of her genre, while remaining clearly and unquestionably a unique voice in fantasy. This book is a modern classic and belongs alongside The Last Unicorn and Spinning Silver on your shelf.”―Seanan McGuire
“This book is so exciting, deeply wise, sad, brutal and compassionate all at once. And beautifully written, with a plot as cunning as fine embroidery. . . . When I finished I could hardly bear to tear myself away from this eerie, vivid world, with its struggling, flawed, wonderful characters.”―Catriona Ward, author of Last House on Needless Street
“Nettle & Bone brings Kingfisher’s signature honesty and authenticity to a fairy tale setting―the result is refreshing, earnest but not naive, and deeply satisfying. I devoured it. This is one that’s going to stay with me for a long time.”―Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars
“Kingfisher’s combination of comedy with feminist rage in a complex fairytale setting makes for a wholly entertaining read.” — Buzzfeed
“Witty, sparkling tale of a heroine’s quest, full of matter-of-fact magic, impossible tasks, and a group of fantastic and charming companions. A delight throughout.”―Louisa Morgan, author of A Secret History of Witches
“Nettle & Bone is pure delight. T. Kingfisher uses the bones of fairy tale to create something entirely her own, written in gloriously clear and transparent prose. I devoured this story of a princess-nun rescuing her sister from an abusive marriage, and every fresh turn delighted me.”―Emily Tesh, Hugo finalist, Silver in the Wood
“Nettle & Bone is what happens when all the overlooked bit players of classic fantasy somehow wind up on the main quest. It’s funny, frightening, and full of heart; I loved it.”―Alix E. Harrow, author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January
“Charming and macabre―often both at the same time―Nettle & Bone has bite, proper jokes, effortlessly good storytelling and a really wonderful tomb labyrinth.”―A. K. Larkwood, author of The Unspoken Name
“Somehow, Kingfisher writes stories that put you at your ease and make you want to crawl out of your skin at the same time. I loved the way this horrified me―and, in the end, gave me hope.”―Kevin Hearne, New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Druid Chronicles
–This text refers to the hardcover edition.
From the Publisher
Tor Books; 1st edition April 26 2022
April 26 2022
|Page numbers source ISBN||
As Always, UnputdownableI stumbled across Ursula Vernon/T. Kingfisher – not literally, that would be awkward, but metaphorically, as all the best meetings really are – about six months ago. In that time frame, I have read almost everything she has ever published under either name, in most cases twice, and never been disappointed by any of it. She is quite probably my favorite living author, and the only other people I can think to put up to the same level would be the greatly missed Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett. She writes cleverly involved plots and creates memorable, distinct characters all of whom are immensely enjoyable (I do so especially love her gnolls). But I think in many ways, the moments that really capture my heart are spent on those quiet, little absurdities that typically go neglected in every other book I read. Maybe it’s just that I can deeply relate to a woman, on a life-or-death mission to save her sister, spending dear cognitive power on the complexities of sharing a bed and the associated physical functions such entails – Can I move my arm? Are they asleep enough for me to move my arm? Surely they cannot be comfortable with my arm there, but then, if I do move my arm and wake them up, I will feel guilty. You agonize over this, and whether or not you are breathing too loudly, wondering if the other person is anywhere near as concerned about you as you are about them, for many needless minutes and then the offending appendage falls asleep and it all just gets so much worse…This book is in line with her previous works in that there are touches of the absurd and biting wit and, of course, nuns (she has a bit of an obsession with them by and large). For close readers, you will see echoes of her other novels sprinkled throughout the pages – white rats, clockwork creations, mobile skeletons, antelope women, and Pygmalion revisited – which made my lips quirk at the edges every time one cropped up.There are also the other moments that I don’t know if other people catch out quite as readily as I do. The new archimandrite being referred to with the pronoun “they” – they aren’t even in the book; it’s just a reference made in passing by one of the sisters, but I think I will examine it more closely in the reread nonetheless. This nonchalant inclusivity that has absolutely nothing to do with the plot is significantly more meaningful than many books I have read that have such things the poorly focused centers to their stories. In this vein, Steven Erikson comes to mind – his books are almost breathtakingly cosmopolitan if long-winded and a bit overly pedantic – but hers are always significantly more true-to-life (despite the werebears and talking swords).TLDR: She’s fantastic. If you’ve read her before, you won’t be disappointed. If you haven’t, this is a hell of an introduction.Looking forward to her next novel! I already have it pre-ordered (she’s the only person I do that for).
More classic Kingfisher charactersT. Kingfisher has a knack for creating unique, relatable characters who do extraordinary things matter of factly, then sprinkling in a few unexpected, delightful ones among them. I didn’t think anything could top the gnoles, but Bonedog is the best dog ever.This isn’t an easily categorizable book. It has princesses and a goblin market and a hero’s journey, but it also has domestic violence and real horror, along with a crash course in difficult political calculations. It also meanders a bit and Marra takes her time to develop as a protagonist, but you’re in good hands with Kingfisher, who is an intentional and careful writer.I wasn’t blown away by this novel. It’s not flashy or filled with elevated language. But it’s an intensely satisfying read, with characters I learned to care about, doing things that mattered because they were the right things to do, and at the end I was left with a book I cared deeply about.
Becket Hampton Warren
Enchanting and OriginalI loved Nettle and Bone. I love the afterword, in which author T. Kingfisher reveals that the bone dog —a creature that the heroine forms from bones and wire and then brings back from death— popped into her head at the grocery store. The best ideas for the best stories must begin in the most prosaic places!I found the novel refreshingly original and odd, perfectly quirky and delightful in every way. The characters were both ordinary and magical, destined to make bold moves and yet reluctant to act (and a bit frumpy), running headlong away from and directly into danger. The band of personalities that accrue throughout the novel and surround the not-very-princessy princess (our heroine) are as remarkable as she is—but all of them are happy to subside into quiet domestic life once the heroics are at an end. It just makes sense: not everyone is destined to occupy center stage. I hope you will give this novel a try. You’ll be glad you did!
Here’s a Ghost Story About a Short, Sturdy WomanI hope this is on everyone’s award list next year because it sure deserves it.Nettle & Bone is a traditional fairy tale story: a princess, the youngest daughter of three, is assigned three impossible tasks to get her heart’s desire. The first two are the title: she sews a cloak of owl cloth and nettles, doing great damage to her hands, and she strings together cursed bones to make a “living” dog (doing further damage to her hands). The third task, catching moonlight in a bowl, is just sort of given to her because her task mistress never expected her to complete the first two impossible tasks.Princess Marra has been sent to a convent as a condition of her brother-in-law, Prince Vorling. He married first her eldest sister, who died in his care before having a child, and then her second sister. Prince Vorling’s kingdom is much more powerful and can destroy Marra’s kingdom so her family complies with everything he says. The deal is Vorling’s first child will inherit his kingdom and the second inherit the one Marra’s family has. Vorling doesn’t want any competition from a child of Marra’s, so to the convent she goes.Those familiar with Kingfisher’s (aka Ursula Vernon’s) works will recognize and appreciate her distinctive authorial voice. Here are a few examples.”There were very few ghost stories about short, sturdy women.” (p. 23)”She had been born a princess, which should have been lucky, but the price for never going hungry was to be caught in a struggle between people too powerful to call to justice.” (p. 62)”It was hard to be frightened of the unknown when the unknown kept chickens.” (p. 66)The story gets very dark but Marra is a character who always knows who she is and manages to draw others to herself. I think this is a fabulous book.
Just wonderfulI was hesitant about buying this as it was billed as having ‘horror’ elements – not my preference. Certainly there are dark themes, and the opening chapter, which for me rather stood apart thematically, seemed to be heading in that direction. But then the story got going, with many of the elements I love about T Kingfisher’s writing – strong characters, bizarre encounters, Pratchett-style humour. I was reminded of Swordheart at times, though the overall tone is of a very dark (but also funny) fairytale. I just wished it was longer, so the characters could have been more developed.
Cute and funny and of course horrifyingI love T Kingfisher’s books, they always make me smile, even when they tackle really dark themes. She has a way with words and language that is wonderful to read and sparks joy.Nettle and Bone is part of her horror-esque “series”, and tells the story of a woman trying to save her sister, and collecting a rag tag gang along the way (tall handsome stranger included). I enjoyed it very much.
Wonderful story tellingReally well-written with a story that moves along at good pace. Decent world-building with lots of room for the characters to shine and some really excellent female lead characters and decent friendships.
S.BrownAnother wonderful story from a wonderful storyteller, great plot, fantastic characters . Can’t wait for the next book, well worth your time and money, totally recommend it.
satisfying fantasyPrincesses must marry to save the kingdom. The youngest sister is the safest – can she save her older sister.Complex magic and family feeling.