Fairytale Fantasy Book – Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian
A fantasy book with poetic language, a lush landscape and an unforgettable heroine, how can you possibly go wrong? This is one of those rare books where you find yourself reading it aloud just to enjoy the lyricism of the words. Set in a magical medieval Europe, it weaves several stories together to give us a highly romantic tale told from a variety of viewpoints.
Although in some ways it is a retelling of the myth of Persephone, this wonderful old fairy tale of how a little girl named Percy came to meet the King of Death is both fantastical and very human. It begins with one of the most lovely paragraphs for an opening that I have read in any kind of book, fantasy or otherwise, in a long time.
“He came to them in the heart of winter, asking for his Cobweb Bride. He arrived everywhere, all at once. In one singular moment, he was seen, heard, felt, remembered. Some inhaled his decaying scent. Others bitterly tasted him. And everyone recognized Death in one way or another, just before the world was suspended.”
Death Comes Looking For His Bride
If you remember the story of Persephone, she became the bride of the King of Hades when he happened to see her and fell in love with her. He took her down to Hades to be his bride. But her mother followed her down and bargained for her daughter.
The deal was that because she had eaten six pomegranate seeds since she had arrived, she must remain with the King of Hades for six months of the year. In the myth, the earth went into mourning whenever Persephone was gone and that is why we have winter.
In this fantasy book retelling, instead of the King of Hades we have Death who arrives. He appears in the form of a tall dark Spaniard at the deathbed of the queen. He demands to know where his cobweb bride is. For even Death can fall in love. But his cobweb bride is nowhere to be found.
The End of Death
Until he can find his cobweb bride, Death has declared neither people nor animals shall die. But how to find her? The king is desperate, for his kingdom is in disarray when death does not come. Because the King does not know how to find the cobweb bride, he sends out a notice that every family must give up one daughter to be considered for Death’s bride. From that declaration we then meet Percy, the middle daughter of a simple family in a small village.
From Persephone to Percy
It is easy to see that Percy is one of the heroines of our story. She’s smart, inventive and has a lot of common sense. All of these are traits of a heroine in a fairy tale, even a somewhat modern one like this. Both the older and younger sister outshines Percy and she knows it. Her older sister is by far the prettiest in the village and her younger sister is vicious and beloved by everyone. In Percy’s family, she is the obvious choice. When Death declares a moratorium on dying, Percy realizes that her grandmother, who is on the verge of death, will remain in pain. The bride for Death must be found to release her grandmother. And so the journey begins.
Many Journeys of Discovery
But as she journeys we see the many ways that Death’s decision has affected everyone from Duke’s to the simplest of creatures. Knights in battle rise up again, a slain Duke decides to rule regardless, and the Emperor’s daughter, the Infantina, although assassinated cannot die. Worse yet, when animals cannot die how do we eat? When a neighbor’s pig is slaughtered, we suddenly discover the price could be hunger.
We also meet others who are on the journey to become perhaps the cobweb bride of Death. One of the most memorable is the Infantina. The daughter of the most powerful couple in The Kingdoms, she is brutally murdered but because of deaths declaration she cannot die.
Instead, she decides she is the perfect bride for Death. So she joins the throngs of young girls headed for the Northern Woods to offer themselves up as the cobweb bride of Death. Though she is in essence a zombie, the Infantina is one of my favorite characters because of how she grows as a person as she makes the journey.
Not Quite the Journey’s End
Although the story in this fantasy book comes to an end when the several cobweb bride candidates we have been following reach their destination, it is not the end of the story. For this is just the first book in a trilogy. I will warn you it is a little slow at the beginning. But take your time, enjoy the language, and follow the wonderful tale of the search for Death’s cobweb bride.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of Cobweb Bride from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes.
You can download your own Kindle copy of Cobweb Bride and dig in, or order the paperback copy and even a hardcover version of it from the folks at Amazon. Note: If you are into maps, there is one in this book and it is hard to read on a Kindle, like most maps.