Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ballad of the Beanstalk by Amy McNulty

Ballad of the Beanstalk
by Amy McNulty

My rating: 4 stars

Publisher: Patchwork Press (April 11, 2017)
Publication Date: April 11, 2017 Paperback - March 16, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy re-Telling - LGBT
Print Length: 281 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
 
As her fingers move across the strings of her family’s heirloom harp, sixteen-year-old Clarion can forget. She doesn’t dwell on the recent passing of her beloved father or the fact that her mother has just sold everything they owned, including that very same instrument that gives Clarion life. She doesn’t think about how her friends treat her like a feeble, brittle thing to be protected. She doesn’t worry about how to tell the elegant Elena, her best friend and first love, that she doesn’t want to be her sweetheart anymore. She becomes the melody and loses herself in the song.

When Mack, a lord’s dashing young son, rides into town so his father and Elena’s can arrange a marriage between the two youth, Clarion finds herself falling in love with a boy for the first time. Drawn to Clarion’s music, Mack puts Clarion and Elena’s relationship to the test, but he soon vanishes by climbing up a giant beanstalk that only Clarion has seen. When even the town witch won’t help, Clarion is determined to rescue Mack herself and prove once and for all that she doesn’t need protecting. But while she fancied herself a savior, she couldn’t have imagined the enormous world of danger that awaits her in the kingdom of the clouds.

A prequel to the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk that reveals the true story behind the magical singing harp.

 
Ballad of the Beanstalk by Amy McNulty

Ballad of the BeanstalkDon’t you just love getting “the rest of the story” regarding those fairy tales we grew up with? Did you ever make up your own fairy tale to go with one, say like Jack and the Beanstalk? Amy McNulty did just that with her tale of THE BALLAD OF THE BEANSTALK as she reveals her version of the real story behind the magical singing harp.

Perhaps we weren’t ready for this until we were grown up, because it is NOT a fluffy version of magic and happy endings, but it does make one want to re-read Jack and the Beanstalk, if only to cement the possibilities that this really fits!

Clarion was a young girl whose family had fallen on hard times, forcing her mother to sell her beloved harp that helped her escape the ugliness of life as she made its strings sing with enchanting music. She has never loved a boy, but she does know love with her best friend Elena, a love they can never make public. When a young lord comes to town, to be betrothed to Elena, Clarion discovers she can love a boy, and she falls hard for the young man who suddenly disappears into the clouds on a beanstalk. She will find a way to save him, even if the town thinks she’s daft and the local witch refuses to help. What she finds in the clouds will chill your bones as a crazed giant king brings death and destruction to his own kingdom and it threatens to spill below in the world of humans.

Is there more to the lord than meets the eye? Will Clarion’s impetuous acts change the lives of those she means to save? Will her bravery and determination be her own downfall or will it expose her true inner self and the beauty of her precious harp?

Amy McNulty isn’t looking to make things all pretty and nice, she brings out the dark and raw possibilities of the harp’s story told in a bold way, warts and all. Fairy tales always have a dark side, and this backstory is no different. Well written, sometimes filled with touches of simple beauty, the dark atmosphere puts a razor sharp edge to this tale.

I received an ARC edition from Amy McNulty in exchange for my honest review.


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