Greetings all! I hope this installment of Lands Uncharted finds you safe and well. I am holed up in my little nook of forest, where I have been quarantined since my school’s Spring Break. The good news is all of this down time has given me plenty of opportunities to indulge in reading of all kinds (both for entertainment and for learning), which means I have a trio of stories to recommend for this weekend’s reading (in no particular order).
Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
This enchanting story retells the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche from the perspective of Psyche’s sister, Orual. As will all good retellings, it examines the story from a perspective I never contemplated in the original. With the original, I questioned Psyche’s faith in her husband. This version, however, explores jealousy, betrayal, and loss, as well as the complexities of love. Written in classic C.S. Lewis style and voice, reading this story left me feeling nostalgic for other C.S. Lewis works and prompted me to look anew at my understandings of the story’s themes. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking to read something that will leave you thinking.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Another story about the power of love, this is the tale of Luna, a baby left as a sacrifice to placate the witch who lives in the forest. That witch, however, doesn’t know why the babies are left to die. She makes it her business to collect them and adopt them out to loving homes in nearby villages. All of that changes, though on the night she rescues Luna and gives the baby moonlight to eat.
Peopled with unique characters you’ll never forget and told in a way that leaves you feeling wistful and nostalgic, this enchanting story will stay with you for a long time. It is one of those stories that will become part of your personal cannon, as it has mine.
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
Miryem is the daughter of a money lender who has such a soft heart that he hesitates to collect on the debts owed him. Driven by the poverty her family lives in, the disgust with which the people of her village regard her, and the failing health of her mother, Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart to call in the debts owed her father, Miryem soon reverses the bad fortune of her family and gains a reputation for being able to spin silver into gold. This gains the attention of a neighboring fey king, who comes looking for Miryem and the riches she is said to follow her.
This story is a fabulous retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale. Filled with overtones of Jewish and Slavic cultures, the story world is richly developed and unique. The characters are also exquisitely drawn, and the plot is robust, unique, and memorable.
I’m very excited to share these stories with you. I hope you get the chance to read one, if not all, of them. If you do, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.