When Dashti, a maid, and Lady Saren, her mistress, are shut in a tower for seven years because of Saren’s refusal to marry a man she despises, the two prepare for a very long and dark imprisonment.
As food runs low and the days go from broiling hot to freezing cold, it is all Dashti can do to keep them fed and comfortable. With the arrival outside the tower of Saren’s two suitors – one welcome, the other decidedly less so – the girls are confronted with both hope and great danger, and Dashti must make the desperate choices of a girl whose life is worth more than she knows.
Although I didn’t know it when I originally chose to read the book, this story is based on a little known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, the same people who brought us the likes of Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, and many others. As one might expect, the tale is as inviting as the others, and I found myself pulled in by the story.
We get to read the whole story from Dashti’s point of view, as she writes their days in her book of thoughts. I quite liked this arrangement, because if nothing else, Saren is a bit of a frustrating character and I don’t know if I would have wanted to see her thoughts throughout the entire book. We learn early on that Saren cannot read or write, so Dashti gives us both of their lives in journal format.
I really enjoyed seeing the two girls go from a lady and her maid, to friends, all the while seeing how very different life is for the gentry versus the commoners. While Saren is frustrating and I spent much of the time wondering if I should like her or not, Dashti is charming, clever, and loyal to the end.
Although this isn’t historical fiction, a lot of it is based on accounts of times long ago on the central Asian steppes. Naturally, the mystical elements of the story are total fairy tale, but otherwise I think the life they lead, the reverence to multiple deities, presents an interesting look into a life we may not know much about.
The love triangle Dashti finds herself mixed up in makes me yearn to be a part of the story, to live in this world and experience their adventures with them. The disguise and drama really make you wonder what’s going to happen next, and will love triumph over all?
I found the ending very moving, and I loved the end of the story for each of these characters, I felt it was just perfect.
Read this book if: I think this is a really good book for the YA audience it targets, and would be something fun to read with your young daughter. It’s also not bad to read just on your own!
*Review originally posted at Royal Reviews