Usually when I read for pleasure, I’m looking for entertainment. While fantasy and historical fiction are two of my favorite genres, I’m not stuck on them. This week I read books in three different genres: fantasy, mystery and non-fiction.
White Hart is a fun twist on the idea of mistaken identity. Mae is one of the last few magic wielders in Aegunland. She’s kept her secret closely, not wanting anyone to know of her abilities. The king scours the land, looking for a suitable craft-born girl to marry to his son. When the searchers arrive in Mae’s village, the social climbing miller pushes his daughter forward, claiming she has the powers the king is seeking in a bride for the prince.
When the village is attacked and many killed by villains who kidnap the miller’s daughter is kidnapped in order to exploit the talents they think she has, Mae and the spoiled prince set out on a quest to rescue her, and to avenge the dead. Little did Mae know what a wild ride she’d started, and what dangers lay ahead.
Turning to non-fiction, I found the compelling story of Zari, who was born in Afghanistan and grew up in Kabul during the endless wars that have plagued her native country. She moved to London, and there produced a radio program for Afghan women. Dear Zari is a collection of the letter she received through the years, telling the difficulties, struggles and victories of the women who survive through heroic efforts and perseverance.
Some of the stories, especially those told by women forced into marriage at a very young age, are heartbreaking. Much of their suffering is due to long-held traditions, and the women share some unimaginable horrors: being given as a child bride to repay a debt, to a life spent in a dark room, weaving carpets, to widows, shunned by society. Worst of all was the story of a girl brought up as a boy.
The bravery of the women to speak out and share their stories gave the author courage to face her own past nightmare. While difficult reading, the courage and resilience of the women is an inspiration to anyone struggling.
Switching genres yet again, Last Writes is a mystery featuring Claudia, a handwriting expert. When her friend Kelly’s estranged half-sister shows up with a story that her husband has kidnapped their daughter. The couple had been living in a secluded compound belonging to the Temple of the Brighter Light. Claudia uses an opportunity to put her forensic handwriting skills to use while searching for the missing child. She uncovers disturbing hints about the cult and its leaders. Meanwhile, the time for an ancient prophecy to be fulfilled draws near, making Claudia wonder is the missing girl—and others—are in mortal peril.