Briar Girls

Rebecca Kim Wells. Simon & Schuster, $18.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5344-8842-7
Wells (the Shatter the Sky duology) reinterprets “Sleeping Beauty,” centering light brown–skinned Lena, 17 and cursed since birth with the power to kill through a single touch. Ten years after her mother abandoned their family, Lena and her father must flee their home for the town of Onwey; they’re charged with keeping villagers from entering an ominous, bewitching forest called the Silence. Having spent her life running from the witch who cursed her, as well as the memories of her own unintended victims, Lena is lonely and sheltered until a mysterious woman stumbles out of the Silence. Though the forest is known to be deadly, Lena accompanies her to the Gather, a city of magic within it that may hold the secret to both lifting Lena’s deadly curse and finding the key to her heart. A first-person, RPG-style narrative results in thin characterizations and subsequently weak relationships, but Wells’s straightforward handling of bisexual Lena’s sex-positive attitude is a breath of fresh air. Wells swings for the fences, ambitiously conceiving a take on fairy tale magic that leans into fast-paced adventure. Ages 14–up. Agent: Rebecca Podos, Rees Literary. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 09/30/2021
Release date: 11/01/2021
Genre: Children's
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