Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mistress of the Wind by Michelle Diener

Title: Mistress of the Wind
Author: Michelle Diener

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Fantasy / Fairy Tale / Scandinavia / Magic / Trolls)
Publisher/Publication Date: Season Publishing (12/19/2013)
Source: NetGalley

Rating: Loved.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary:
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.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Sounds like an interesting book to check out. If you're into fairy tales, I recommend you should read Juliet Marillier's Daughter of the Forest. It is a retelling of The Wild Swans by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. It also has a strong protagonist.

    1. Thanks, Lauralee, will look for it! I love fairy tale retellings -- they're an addiction, I think! :)

  3. I have enjoyed the other books I have read from this author but haven't read this one yet!

  4. Wow, what a strong recommendation! For some reason, I saw this book cover and immediately thought it was a re-print of that book Julie of the Wolves. But apparently not :-)

  5. Once I've read Daughter of the Sky, I'll be moving on to this. Your reviews are recommendation enough :) Well done on What's In A Name.