A joyous, whimsical tribute to fairy tales that slyly critiques gender roles, social class, religion, and government.
By Mo Conlan ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 4, 2023
Morwenna Goodwin, a 19-year-old woman of marriageable age, is the heroine of Conlan’s romantic historical adventure novel. She receives courtship gifts from her childhood friend Henry Truelove, the son of a wealthy family, which she puts to practical use. Henry returns home to find his father facing ruinous taxes, and brings eight milkmaids with him. Daisy, one of the milkmaids, becomes a servant in Blount Hall and helps to expose the misdeeds of the tax collector and his son. James, a former monastery student, shows Tom a bejeweled holy book given to him for safekeeping after monasteries were disbanded. An ex-abbot also appears, having hidden a cache of books and other stolen treasure in the area. To retrieve the stolen monastery treasures, Morwenna and Henry gather a crew of “Holy Pirates”. The town’s wealthy sisters create a festival play which results in several marriages and an opportunity for the main couple and their crew to spirit away the books to a safe place. The novel is a combination of William Goldman’s The Princess Bride and Karen Cushman’s Catherine, Called Birdy, with a cast of characters that includes an ex-pirate, a formerly enslaved sailor, and displaced nuns. The characters often express snarky social criticism, such as Tom’s comment that church officials are “sneaky and venomous as snakes, and ever changing what be true and what heresy.” In the end, all is well and the stolen treasures are saved.
Pub Date: April 4, 2023
Page Count: 290
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Review Posted Online: June 26, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023