Review Blog

Jan 23 2017

Barefoot on the wind by Zoe Marriott

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The Moonlit Lands series, bk 2. Walker Books, 2016. ISBN 9781406333374
(Age: 10+) Recommended. Fantasy. This beautifully written retelling of Beauty and the beast is a companion novel to Shadows on the Moon, and takes the reader back to the Moonlit Lands in a Japan like setting. Hana is a young woman, who is confined to a remote village surrounded by a forest. The trees whisper to her saying 'There is a monster in the forest' which Hana knows for a fact, as many of the villagers have disappeared, never to be seen again - one of them her beloved brother. When Hana's father is taken, she is the only one in her village who is prepared to try and find him. She is successful, but is determined to kill the beast and goes off again in search of it, encountering much that is magical and more dangerous than she could have imagined.
At the beginning of the book Marriott has written about her idea for the book and her wish to write it from 'a feminist perspective, asking 'What if Beauty went after the Beast of her own free will? And how could the Beast redeem himself in order to truly deserve her forgiveness . . . and her love?' The author is very successfully in achieving her aim. Hana is a resourceful and clever person, who has the strength of character to pursue what she knows is right. In doing so she is able to forgive not only the Beast and her father for their mistakes but she is able to come to terms with her own actions when her brother went missing. This has a ripple effect on the magic in the forest.
The strong imagery in the book provides an atmospheric background to Hana's adventures. It is easy to imagine the shadowy woods, the dense thorn hedge, the frozen lake and the evil creations that inhabit the forest. The petty mindedness of the villagers and the isolation of Hana also adds to the dark and brooding atmosphere.
This is a really good retelling of the fairy tale and while it is suitable for younger readers, teens will also enjoy it for its unusual setting and wonderful characters.
Pat Pledger

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