Eventually I got myself up so I could write what Tegus said. To keep telling my story seems like the last bit of living I can still do.
1. I love Dashti THE MOST. She is smart and clever. She is honest, hopeful, and grateful. She wants to survive and fights to survive. She is just the best. In fact, she reminds me a lot of Ella from Ella Enchanted in that I love her and think she’s wonderful and amazing. And awesome. Ahhh, I just love her so much.
2. I love that this is a fairy tale retelling, but it’s based on a lesser known fairytale (“Maid Maleen“), so I had absolutely no preconceived notions of what the story should be. (I didn’t read “Maid Maleen” until after I had finished the novel.)
3. I love, love, love that Dashti and Lady Saren wind up saving themselves and each other. I mean, sure, it takes Saren a little while to get to that point but when she does, it totally works.
4. Okay, so a brief synopsis: Dashti is appointed to be Lady Saren’s maid; Lady Saren’s father locks the two in a tower for seven years to try to force Saren into marrying this dude she hates; Dashti journals the experience.
5. I love the way Hale gives importance to the different strengths people have to show that none are necessarily better but that they’re all different and can be used in helpful ways–even if other people don’t always understand them.
6. The ending was MUCH BETTER than I had anticipated. I knew it could only end a certain way (or that I wanted it to end that way), and I love, love, love the way that Hale makes it happen. It’s believable, expected, AND unpredictable. Also, it rewards the readers by weaving in everything we learn about the characters throughout the story.
7. I love that the characters are Mongolian. Yes.
8. Oh, I love the illustrations throughout the story. I also love that Hale finds a smart and believable way to make this Dashti’s story and that she’s the one writing/telling it.
9. Did I mention I love Dashti? I love her SO MUCH.
10. Ultimately, I love what this story says about faith, about passion, about survival, about truth, and yes, about the importance of writing your own story and knowing your own truth.