Mistress of the Wind by Michelle Diener
Author: Michelle Diener
Genre: Fiction (Historical / Fantasy / Fairy Tale / Scandinavia / Magic / Trolls)
Publisher/Publication Date: Season Publishing (12/19/2013)
Did I finish?: I did.
Reading Challenges: E-book, Historical Fiction, Netgalley & Edelweiss, What’s In A Name
Do I like the cover?: I do!
I'm reminded of...: Michelle D. Argyle
First line: Bjorn ran along a path of his own making, between the thinning trees at the top of the mountain.
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy!
Why did I get this book?: I wait for Michelle Diener's novels with bated breath.
Review: I'm an enormous Michelle Diener fangirl. Her writing is warm and inviting, her stories the right mix of adventure and romance, her heroines are always delightful, and there's rich historical detail and ambiance in every book.
This one was familiar and cozy and new and imaginative, and was the kind of book I love for cranky days: it got me out of my head and wholly absorbed me.
Mistress of the Wind, inspired by the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon, is ambigu-historical, set in a land resembling Scandinavia (or thereabouts). Bjorn, a half-god prince cursed to live as a bear, searches for the woman he met when they were both children. Should he not find the maiden, he must marry a troll's daughter and unite his kingdom with theirs.
Astrid is a woodcutter's daughter who feels an affinity with the wind. Whether a fancy or real magic, her family doesn't care. Starving and exhausted, they are only briefly taken aback when a massive talking bear asks to take Astrid for the price of two bags of coins. Astrid agrees out of curiosity and an awareness of her family's need for the money, but she's unprepared for Bjorn's rules once she arrives at his palace. Despite their growing intimacy, she doesn't trust his rules and secrets, and becomes embroiled in the greater danger in Bjorn's kingdom.
While the story arc follows the fairy tale, Diener incorporates pieces of the Cupid and Psyche myth as well as original elements that make this a satisfying read. The novel just races; I inhaled it in a matter of hours, unable to stop reading. Astrid is a resourceful if not occasionally maddening heroine and I was charmed immediately by her. The magical world Diener invents for Bjorn is intriguing and appealing.
Diener shares some of her thoughts about this book on GoodReads, but her comments could be spoiler-ish for those who aren't familiar with how the Cupid and Psyche myth shakes out.
For those who are intrigued by Elizabeth Blackwell's While Beauty Slept, this is another book to add to the queue. Fans of fairy tales will absolutely want to read this one as well as those who enjoy fierce heroines who aren't flawless. Diener's next endeavor, The Golden Apple, is inspired by the less often used fairy tale, The Princess on the Glass Hill and I am so excited for it.