Book Review: The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher
Young Rhea is a miller’s daughter of low birth, so she is understandably surprised when a mysterious nobleman, Lord Crevan, shows up on her doorstep and proposes marriage. Since commoners don’t turn down lords—no matter how sinister they may seem—Rhea is forced to agree to the engagement.
Lord Crevan demands that Rhea visit his remote manor before their wedding. Upon arrival, she discovers that not only was her betrothed married six times before, but his previous wives are all imprisoned in his enchanted castle. Determined not to share their same fate, Rhea asserts her desire for freedom. In answer, Lord Crevan gives Rhea a series of magical tasks to complete, with the threat “Come back before dawn, or else I’ll marry you.”
With time running out and each task more dangerous and bizarre than the last, Rhea must use her resourcefulness, compassion, and bravery to rally the other wives and defeat the sorcerer before he binds her to him forever.
"Be bold ... be bold ...
But not too bold ...
... this ... is a murder's ... house ..."
The Seventh Bride is a perfect fairy tale for readers wanting something darker and richer in their read, a fairy tale with roots that seem to branch off from a Grimm's tale. Kingfisher takes familiar tropes and spins them into something enchanting. With hints of Bluebeard, Mr. Fox, and bits and pieces of other tales, The Seventh Bride was a complete and pleasant surprise!
"Marriage was so far from her thoughts that it was like some far-off foreign country, possibly with elephants."
The story opens with fifteen-year-old Rhea, a miller's daughter, discovering she has received a marriage proposal from a wealthy (a mysterious and rumored sorcerer) minor noble. Ever practical, Rhea finds herself angry and questioning the fact as to "why her?" a miller's daughter - one of no particular beauty and even less domestic skill.
"It was just . . . just . . . Something nagged at the back of her brain, a niggling little itch, as if she had a mosquito bite on the inside of her skull.
It was like a whisper, just below what she could quite hear, and what it was whispering was “Something isn’t quite right here.
Something is going on . . .” I wonder what it is . . ."
Here is where the story get's fabulously interesting. Left with a gift of a crimson dress, a silver wedding band, and an invitation from Lord Crevan to:
"Come to my house, ... three days from now."
Encourage by her impoverish parents to do the "right thing" Rhea sets off on a quest to discover what the Lord Crevan wants with a poor, miller's daughter. Lord Crevan bids the reluctant Rhea, with a dare to go:
"North, from the spring, into the wildwood. There's a road. Set out at dusk, ... the road is very white in the moonlight. You will not go astray."
Once she takes her first steps upon that path there is no turning back and this is where the fairy tale really begins. Rhea will come across a helpful little hedgehog, greet three golems with dire warnings, realize that the wives of Lord Crevan are not dead, but alive, and will be given three deadly task to perform.
“So you’re Rhea. Well, I’m Maria,” said the cook. “And this is Sylvie, as you heard, and the grim old bat who brought you in is Ingeth.”
“Are— are you Lord Crevan’s servants?” asked Rhea timidly.
Maria laughed then, a rich, rollicking belly laugh that filled up the kitchen and rang the pots and pans.
“Oh, no, no, no,” said Sylvie, shaking her head. Wispy hair flew.
“Bless your heart,” Maria said, wiping her eyes. “Servants indeed. No, my child. We’re Lord Crevan’s wives.”
As each task is delivered, with utterly grim and dark foreboding, the tale winds ever closer to why Lord Crevan needs a seventh wife.
"... there is a price for failure, Miss Rhea. Come back before dawn, or else I'll marry you."
Rhea herself is a perfect counter-balance to the story, practical and curious, open to the possibility of magic, she dares to beat Lord Crevan at his own game. The other wives all play an integral part that really adds to the story, and, of course, the hedgehog that helps "guide" Rhea when things got too dark.
The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher is a great addition to any fairy tale lovers collection and with Bluebeard a less popular tale, an exciting rendition to read!