Today's book wasn't what I expected after seeing the cover. For some reason, it had me thinking about the Nutcracker ballet, but the blurb makes it clear that it isn't inspired by that one. Instead, it lets famous characters from Hans Christian Andersen wink in its direction. This small book has a historical atmosphere, throws in mystery, and is really a lovely read. So, saying more, here's today's review:
The Dryad's Cede
by K.C. Simos
Middle Grade/Tween Fantasy
When the Royal Pearl is stolen from the Palace, Eliza's foster father becomes the main suspect. The police assume the verse left behind is the thief's calling card, but Eliza believes it may be a riddle. The two embark on an adventure to clear his name, where Eliza proves to him just how resourceful a twelve-year-old-girl can be.
THE DRYAD'S CEDE stories are inspired by characters from the tales of Hans Christian Andersen, such as the Tin Soldier, the Little Mermaid, the Old House, the Little Matchgirl, the Emperor's New Clothes, the Nightingale, and the Snow Queen.
This read surprised and captured me, making it hard not to read in one sitting.
Eliza is twelve-years-old and can't wait for her foster father to return with the king from war. He arrives but has lost is leg. Eliza is still thrilled to have him back and just as their lives settle in to a normal, the golden bird of the castle is stolen. Her father is immediately blamed thanks to a man, who has his eye on her father's love interest. To escape death, Eliza and her father run away, but soon, Eliza realizes that the only way they'll survive is if they can discover the real culprit. And she might just happen to have discovered the first clue.
Anyone who enjoys Hans Christian Andersen is going to smile while reading this one. The author does a fantastic job at weaving in bits and pieces from several of his tales. And these slide in smoothly, leaving only a nod for knowers. For those who aren't as familiar with Mr. Andersen's tales, this is simply a lovely read with mystery, adventure, and tons of heart.
Eliza is gentle hearted, determined, has a free spirit, and posses tons of loyalty. Her love for her father and friends...and those she decides to befriend, makes her hard not to like. She also packs quite a bit of cleverness. While she is supposed to be twelve, her character comes across as someone in their mid-teens. But then, the story itself also heads in a slightly older direction, more for readers then and up than younger ones.
The story is set in a kingdom, where Eliza is accustom to spending time with the young royal brothers and servants, as well as being on a closer relationship with the king and queen. The oldest prince is being pressured to start finding his future bride, and there's an overly persistent girl, who's bound to have him choose her. It's a humorous setting, holds a historic atmosphere, and keeps more family warmth close. There are hints of romance the entire way through, not only with the prince. There are tension and exciting moments, too, and these hold wit more than deadly danger. There are moments to sigh with sadness, giggle at the humor, and slide to the edge of the seat in anticipation.
In other words, it's a tale worth reading.
You can discover more about K.C. Simos and the series: