cover image The Sweetest Spell

The Sweetest Spell

Suzanne Selfors. Walker, $16.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-8027-2376-5

Selfors (Mad Love) offers a delightful spin on classic fairy tales in a story that’s part “The Ugly Duckling,” part “Rumpelstiltskin.” Emmeline Thistle was born a dirt-scratcher’s daughter in the village of Root. Because of her curled foot, she was left to die as a baby. However, Emmeline survived, protected by the local cows, and she gained a strong connection to the animals as a result. After Emmeline’s father is rounded up to fight in a war, she almost drowns in a flood and is saved yet again by the cows, as well as a dairyman’s son, Owen Oak. With Owen, Emmeline discovers she can churn cream into chocolate, a delicacy long gone from the kingdom of Anglund. This magical ability makes Emmeline highly sought after, but she has plans of her own. Selfors’s story line initially comes across as chaotic, but the pacing is strong, and the elements of her tale fall into place in a logical and entirely satisfying manner. An exhilarating, romantic, and frequently funny story of self-discovery. Ages 12–up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Aug.)