Review of Nettle and Bone by T Kingfisher

After years of seeing her sisters suffer at the hands of an abusive prince, Marra―the shy, convent-raised, third-born daughter―has finally realized that no one is coming to their rescue. No one, except for Marra herself.

Seeking help from a powerful gravewitch, Marra is offered the tools to kill a prince―if she can complete three impossible tasks. But, as is the way in tales of princes, witches, and daughters, the impossible is only the beginning.

On her quest, Marra is joined by the gravewitch, a reluctant fairy godmother, a strapping former knight, and a chicken possessed by a demon. Together, the five of them intend to be the hand that closes around the throat of the prince and frees Marra’s family and their kingdom from its tyrannous ruler at last.

Nettle and Bone is the fairytale I didn’t know I needed in my life! It is a wonderfully chaotic story in that you never quite know where it’s going to take you next, when I first picked it up it was dark and bleak to the degree that I thought I was reading a dystopian but as the story winds back the clock to tell us how our protagonist Marra gets herself into the predicament she finds herself in, its clear that this is a dark and delicious fairytale full of macabre creatures, darkly comedic wit and demon possessed chickens.

Telling the story of 3 sisters who are doomed to marry the wicked prince of a nearby kingdom, Marra is sent to a convent to protect herself from the misfortune that has befallen her siblings. Not one for convent life and hiding away whilst her family suffers, Marra sets out on her own to save her sister as it’s clear that no prince charming is going to do the right thing. I loved the refreshing take that Marra steps up to this! Nettle and Bone then takes us on a wonderful mash up of the wizard of Oz meets found family as Marra picks up a band of outcasts along the way to aid her in her quest. My favourite by far was the Dust Wife, whos no nonsense and brittle exterior was a clever front for a quick witted keen mind and a knack for forward planning.

Their journey is full of perils, puzzles and often angry spirits as Marra and each of her troupe find their own redemption arc and their part to play to get to the castle but can they save the princess in time?!