Pen-and-ink and watercolor
Text set in Horley Old Style
Little, Brown and Company
It's a nice bit of meta-storytelling, I thought, for Lauren Mills to begin her book with the dedication: "For twins." This is a story about twins, and what an awful lot of twists and turns the tale takes before arriving at is final destination.
It begins in Norway, in which a barren Queen - at the behest of a young beggar child - has ventured into the midst of a fairy-ridden forest, and there to find two flowers.
"One will be very beautiful, and the other will be an ugly weed. You must eat the beautiful flower and leave the weed there," instructs the beggar child. "Go alone and do not tarry. If you reach the flowers before the sun has set, no harm will befall you."
|The Queen journeys into the woods.|
Faries disperse. Enter hobgoblins.
Twelve of them - a good number - small and cunning and wicked. Later in the text they are referred to as "demons."
"You will have two daughters," declares the leader of the hobgoblins, pointing a gnarled finger at the terrified Queen. "One will be very tame and beautiful, and the other will be wild and strange. Bring the wild and strange one here to us on her twelfth birthday. Now be gone!"
It is this wild and strange child who is the hero of the tale. "Tatterhood," she is called. She wears only ragged clothes, has wild, unkempt hair, and spends her days waving a wooden spoon about and riding upon her pet goat. And it is this Tatterhood who does battle, journeys across stormy seas and arrives at the Island of the Hobgoblins for the grand climax.
And if that wasn't empowering enough, at the end she is crowned Queen!