Cushman, Karen. Grayling’s Song. Fiction. Clarion/Houghton, 06/2016. 224pp. $16.99. 978-0-544-30180-1. HIGH ADDITIONAL. GRADES 3-6.
After fire consumes their home, Grayling’s mother, a wise woman, discovers that her grimoire has been stolen, and when she becomes magically rooted to the ground, Grayling must go for help. Reluctant to set out on her quest because she feels she hasn’t the courage or the know-how, Grayling is eventually joined by a shape-shifting mouse and a rag-tag assortment of mostly female purveyors of magic, whom Grayling summons by singing a gathering song. Cushman’s first foray into fantasy is set in a medieval time, with lyrical descriptions that paint a vivid picture of Grayling’s magical world. The journey is the story here, with Grayling finding her voice and becoming a reluctant hero along the way. Though slightly plodding at times because of the lack of clarity regarding the passage of time, there is plenty of well-placed comic relief to bring levity. This strong story of female empowerment should have wide appeal, especially for those who like historical tales with some magical elements. Review based on ARC.
Eric Barbus, San Francisco PL