Meredith Ann Pierce, Author . Viking $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-670-89247-1

This original and atmospheric fantasy by the author of the Darkangel and Firebringer trilogies introduces Hannah, who lives by the fearsome Tanglewood with a few talkative companion animals. Hannah doesn't age, and she has no memory of anything but this life of isolation. Once a month she plucks the flowers that grow from her head—"Each yank made her whole scalp ache"—and brews them into a tea for the wizard who lives deep in the woods. Hannah is an unusually compelling character: lost but self-assured, brave but deeply naïve. When she falls in love with one of the many knights who search for the treasure of the title, she begins to question the wizard's motives, eventually escaping his manipulative power and undertaking a quest to heal the knight, whom the wizard has transformed into a fox. The book loses momentum somewhat as Hannah begins her travels, largely because readers will be quicker than Hannah at piecing together the story elements. As the flowers in her hair grow unplucked, spring descends upon the land (which has been lost in an epic winter)—yet she never guesses that, among other identities, she is the legendary Spring Maid of whom townspeople talk, the treasure all those knights were seeking. But this concern will trouble few readers: the prose is heady, the setting textured and the premise certain to captivate fans of the genre. Ages 12-up. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/07/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
Mass Market Paperbound - 241 pages - 978-0-14-250013-2
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