Stray by Elissa Sussman

stray

5 out of 5 stars.

I enjoyed this one a fairly silly amount.

Princess Aislynn has always tried to follow the Path, a system set out to keep Princesses pure and their magic contained, but her powers keep breaking out at just the wrong moment. If this continues, she could lose all chances of a good marriage and be condemned to a life as a fairy godmother.

Damn that is a cool premise. Sussman has taken a world of fairy tales (there are plenty of references all over to the classic tales) and turned it slightly dystopian. Princesses are forced to follow a strict religious and moral code to keep themselves pure and suppress any power or individuality they might have. They are watched over by fairy godmothers, disgraced princesses who have had their hearts removed and are set to the task of making sure other princesses do not stray.

A lot of the story also focuses on Aislynn’s relationship with her friends, parents and fairy godmother. There is romance, but also most of the other relationships you would expect a young woman to have. It really gives the character a very well rounded personality.

The antagonist of the book is a shadowy evil queen, ruler of a neighbouring kingdom who seems connected with the epidemic of missing girls. The more immediate evil, though, is the repressive, straight-laced society this is all taking place in. This is not a typical fantasy in that the protagonist does not set out to save the world. She does not even try to take down the repressive society she is in.

The story is mostly about Aislynn’s personal growth and discovery. She is not out to save the world, just to find herself. It is a magical and intimate story with a fantastic premise and great world building. I cannot wait to read the next by this author.

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