The first part in a fantasy duology.

Publication year: 2006
Format: print
Page count: 485
Publisher: Bantam Spectra

A young girl has been abandoned to live alone in the palace gardens. People, including her parents, believe that she’s a demon because she has a strange birth mark: the flesh around her eyes and her eyelids are deep indigo-black. Then one of the Sultan’s small sons meets her in the garden and she tells him that the dark birth mark is actually very dense writing and she starts to tell the boy the stories.

The book is split into the book of the Steppe and the book of the Sea. Each one has a different framing story and in each one, there are stories within the stories. In the book of the Steppe, a young Prince has left the Palace in search of adventure. He stumbles upon a cottage and since he’s hungry, he kills one of the geese. That’s, of course, a terrible mistake. The old woman who lives in the cottage turns out to be… not what you’d expect. Each person the prince meets has a story to tell and often that storyteller also tells the tale of another person, or other five people. In the second book, a young orphan girl has to weave nets for a living. It’s cold work and to keep her company an older woman, also a net-waver tells Snow her story and another stories, as well. Those are the starting points of the books. The stories are interconnected.

The book has talking bears, griffins, and pirates. It has horse gods and living stars. Lovely tales and horrifying tales. Many myths and archetypal characters are turned inside out.

The book is illustrated by Michael Kaluta and the pictures are a great complement to the stories.

Absolutely wonderful read.