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Nettle & Bone: 06/24/22
Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher is a standalone fantasy about a sister on a quest to kill her abusive brother in law. That he's a prince and she's princess living as a nun is a huge impediment. But Marra's good at doing impossible things, just ask the Dust-Wife.
When you're done reading the book, take a moment to read the afterword. In it the author explains how the initial seeds of this novel sprung into her head. The beauty of this book is it's not building on known fantasy character types or tropes. The environment, though, is familiar if you've read other T. Kingfisher novels. It's not, though, as far as I can tell, part of the world of her White Rat books.
Yet, I can't help but head-canon that Marra's world is in the distant past of the White Rat books. The final leg of Marra's quest takes her and her companions through a complex set of catacombs. With the wards, curses, and tricky architecture, I can't help but connect it to the labyrinth that features so heavily in Paladin's Hope (2021).
One delightful addition to this novel, and one I hope happens again in a future novel, comes in the form of a demon possessed hen and a cursed chick. The hen, property / familiar of the Dust-Wife, brings delightful and sometimes uncanny commentary on the situation at hand. Like Bill in Ozma of Oz, this unnamed hen, ends up being the big damn hero of the novel. When questing underground, always have a hen on hand!
Like every other T. Kingfisher novel I've read, this one sits on the Road Narrative Spectrum. As Marra is a princess (albeit living as a nun), she is a privileged traveler (00). So are her companions as they all have specialized skills making them invaluable to the quest. Their destination is uhoria (CC), in that ultimately to solve the problem in the present they need to unravel things done in the distant past. Finally, their route is the cornfield (FF) because the first step Marra makes to a successful end involves crossing through a tkaronto en route to a goblin market.