Grayling's Song by Karen Cushman -- Grayling is the daughter of a hedge witch, but she has no magic of her own, or at least, only a few little things she has learned from helping her mother. But Grayling's life is about to change: she comes home one day to find the cottage burned down, her mother's grimoire stolen, and her mother half turned into a tree. Grayling must go on a quest to find the missing grimoire and any magical folk who have not succumbed to the same leafy fate as her mother. Along the way, Grayling gathers together a motley group of traveling companions, faces many dangers, and learns that she is capable of more than she could ever have imagined.
All of Karen Cushman's books are marked by
careful research, keen insight, and gentle humor, and this book is no
exception. All in all, I found it charming but not compelling: I sat it
down for several days, read other things, and came back to it -- but I
did come back. In fact, I'd like to hear more about Grayling, though
I've never known Cushman to write a sequel. The ending is open enough to
let readers gaze wistfully into Grayling's future, though all of the
major plot threads are tied off. I'd recommend this book to fans of the
author, as well as those who enjoy fantasy stories about common people
in a medieval setting.
(Reviewed from an advance copy, courtesy of the publisher.)