Author: Tia Nevitt
Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Novella
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: September 2010
Have you ever wondered what happens to the other people in the fairy tale?
Things look grim for Talia and her mother. By royal proclamation, the constables and those annoying “good” fairies have taken away their livelihood by confiscating their spinning wheel. Something to do with a curse on the princess, they said.
Not every young lady has a fairy godmother rushing to her rescue.
Without the promise of an income from spinning, Talia’s prospects for marriage disappear, and she and her mother face destitution. Past caring about breaking an arbitrary and cruel law, rebellious Talia determines to build a new spinning wheel, the only one in the nation, which plays right into the evil fairy’s diabolical plan. Talia discovers that finding a happy ending requires sacrifice. But is it a sacrifice she’s willing to make?
Talia is by all accounts a plain (if not ugly) young spinster by trade, whose livelihood and dowry has been cast asunder by some stupid fairy curse proclaiming that the newborn princess, Aurora, will prick her finger on a spinning wheel, putting her into a deep slumber and ruining the kingdom. In an attempt to prevent such a calamitous event from happening, spinning wheels are banned from the kingdom, leaving Talia and her mother out of job, and Talia out of a potential husband – her fiancee, Will, is prohibited from marrying a now income-less woman, and forced to the seminary. Talia, determined to enjoy herself while she can, makes Will her lover – at the cost of her reputation in town. As the years pass and Talia and her mother’s situation grows ever more precarious, the duo decide to build themselves a secret spinning wheel – and, fairy tales being what they are, this naturally brings trouble and the hapless princess to their door…
The Sevenfold Spell is the first novella in a planned series from debut author Tia Nevitt – and I am very pleased to announce that it is, overall, a solid debut indeed. Taking a truly original look at the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale and spinning a fresh new mythology (pardon the pun), The Sevenfold Spell is a winsome retelling.
I loved that the novella follows a new, tangential character to the traditional fairy tale – instead of this being a princess book, it is in fact a book about a commoner-peasant as she struggles to find her place in a world that neither wants nor needs her. Although I will say there is some unevenness to the story – some awkward transitions early on, more than a few stilted sentences, as well as a good deal of sex that didn’t always gel well with the overall story (and the sex was totally not what I was expecting! I thought this would be a straightforward fantasy!). These jarring issues aside, I found myself easily falling into the story, rooting for Talia, and otherwise enjoying myself. The Sevenfold Spell is a solid debut, and I am excited to see what Ms. Nevitt comes up with next.
I completely agree with Thea: The Sevenfold Spell is a solid debut and an incredible fairytale retelling. I loved how the story was from the point of view of a character from the other side of the tracks: the one who suffers when all the spindles are destroyed as per the original fairytale and the one who eventually kept the only spindle working and is effectively the person responsible for bringing the curse to life although not in the expected way because Tia Nevitt not only retells but also subverts and twists the story and I thought that was brilliantly done.
Having said that, I did have to readjust my expectations once I started reading because of a great number of sex scenes: I was expecting a straight Fantasy and got what I think was an Erotic Fantasy with some detailed sex scenes (although in all fairness, the sex scenes were nowhere near as graphic as they could have been) that felt out of place and awkward, and a couple of them did not aggregate anything at all to the plot. In that sense, The Sevenfold Spell is in fact a romantic fantasy which in my opinion, did not combine these two elements naturally and for me, the romance part felt forced and did not work nearly as well as the brilliant fantasy elements of the story.
Those criticisms aside, I enjoyed the story a lot, and can’t wait more retellings by Tia Nevitt.
Notable Quotes/Parts: From Chapter 1:
The booted feet stopped before me as I sat on the ground, hugging my knees. A well-worn, black military boot kicked forward, thumping against my shins. It smarted, but it could have hurt far worse. I looked up at the harried constable. He frowned down at us—a troubled frown, but not an angry one. He was portly and balding, and was a common sight in our part of town. This wasn’t an evil man, but a good man who had been sent out to do an evil task.
“Get up,” he said, his voice so dispirited I almost felt sorry for him.
“Don’t move,” Mama said. It had been her idea that we wedge ourselves hip to hip in the narrow doorway of our shop.
He sighed. “Come now, I don’t like this a bit more than you do.”
“You’ll have to move us,” Mama said.
The constable looked over his shoulder. The fairy hovered there. She was tiny—no larger than my hand—with shimmery pale green leggings and tunic. Her beauty made it difficult to look away.
“Can you move them?” he asked her.
“I am not here to do your job, Constable,” the fairy said, “only to see that you do it honestly.”
The constable’s sigh was exasperated now. He gestured to his men. “Move them.”
Mama and I were both slight. Moving us took no great effort. Suddenly, as I sprawled in the dirt of the street, our defiant gesture seemed pathetic. I could feel the heavy gaze of our neighbors, and like any young maid, I was mortified.
Mama screamed and raised a holy fuss. She went charging back into our shop after the constable’s men. I jumped up and ran in to make sure they didn’t harm her, but I need not have feared. They ignored her as if she were a fly. She hauled on their arms and flailed on their backs as they picked up the spinning wheel and carried it out, and her efforts made little difference.
“My daughter,” she said at one point, grabbing me. “Look at her. Do you think her face will ever get her a husband? That spinning wheel is her future.”
The humiliation of it sent what I knew to be an uncomely flush to my face.
“You will be well-paid,” the constable said, “as soon as it’s destroyed.”
“What about Willard?” I asked my mother, hoping to salvage my injured pride. Willard wasn’t much to look at, but there was no question he was mine.
“Willard!” She snorted in disgust. “I’ll believe he’s willing to marry you when I see you march down the aisle.”
They brought out the spinning wheel and flung it into the back of the wagon. Mama and I both winced as it crashed atop the heap of spinning wheel parts. I had no love for the contraption but had spent many hours dusting the spokes, polishing the surfaces and greasing the axle. The constable’s men, however, had no regard for its fragile structure, its delicate beauty. They had no care that our lives depended upon the simple wooden structure.
The fairy darted out of our shop and hovered near us. She aimed her wand at our spinning wheel and a burst of colors flew out. The colors hit the wheel and buzzed around it like angry bees. When they dissipated, the spinning wheel collapsed into all its various parts, no longer distinguishable from the wreckage surrounding it. I blinked away tears I’d never expected to shed and thought of my fellow spinsters scattered all over the city, mourning, as we did, the loss of our livelihood.
Additional Thoughts: Tia Nevitt blogged with us early today on Inspirations for writing the novella and…Disney Princes. We are also giving away a copy of The Sevenfold Spell. You can read the post and enter the contest here.
Thea: 6 – Good
Ana: 6 – Good