alphabet of thorn + giveaway

Alyce at At Home with Books is doing a weekly feature where she highlights one of her favorite reads from the past and encourages others to do so as well.


My pick this week is Patricia McKillip’s Alphabet of Thorn. McKillip is the author of haunting, beautiful fantasies such as The Forgotten Beasts of Eld (winner of the World Fantasy Award), Od Magic, Ombria in Shadow and The Riddlemaster of Hed, not to mention The Bell at Sealey Head, which I showcased here. Many of these tales are or seem to be reworked and re-imagined fairy tales. They speak with the magic of nature, of humankind, of disturbing and odd and amazing things.


If you’re a fan of fantasy, you MUST pick up McKillip. I can’t say enough good things about her work. There are some books I’ve preferred over others, but her mastery over words and worlds fantastical is seriously wonderful. If you’re NOT usually a fan of fantasy, pick up McKillip anyway, and read it as literary fiction. The prose is gorgeous in its own right, so you’ll be well-rewarded regardless, and just might find yourself as hooked as I am.


Deep inside a palace on the edge of the world, the orphan Nepenthe pores over books in the royal library, translating their languages and learning their secrets. Now sixteen, she knows little of the outside world—except for the documents that traders and travelers bring her to interpret.

Then, during the coronation of the new Queen of Raine, a young mage gives Nepenthe a book that has defied translation. Written in a language of thorns, it speaks to Nepenthe's soul—and becomes her secret obsession. And, as the words escape the brambles and reveal themselves, Nepenthe finds her destiny entwined with that of the young queen's. Sooner than she thinks, she will have to choose between the life she has led and the life she was born to lead...


Alphabet of Thorn is a favorite for many reasons. First off, living in a library sounds like my dream existence. Notice I didn’t say working. I mean living in this fantastical library deep in the bowels of a castle at the edge of a sea... Second, the character has an affinity for languages. I read this book for the first time in college, when I was discovering my own passion for unraveling the meanings of unknown words. It was a perfect fictional accompaniment to my own real life revelations. Third, there’s mystery and magic and the weight of duty (and perhaps the world?) at stake in the novel. And the heroines are themselves: strong, young, silly and wise, but never weak. And finally, the imagery of thorns, of princesses and crossed destinies, of magic and fate beyond control of mere mortals – that is so very reminiscent of my favorite fairy tales. It may be time for another re-read, now that I think about it…


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If you want to own Alphabet of Thorn, I’m giving away one (1) copy here on my blog!


To enter:


Leave a comment on this post answering the question, “What do you (or do you not) like about fairy tales?”


Please include your email address or another method of contact. Giveaway is open internationally - I'll order straight from The Book Depository. Comments will close on November 28 at 11:59pm EST, and I will notify the randomly selected winner via email.


Good luck!

36 comments:

Beleth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ane ΡΌ said...

I like fairy tales because that involves a different magic.
A different world. And the books looks great read. Please enter me!

anecullenshinoda at gmail dot com

fredamans said...

I love fairy tales!! The magic elements, and various characters like ogres, witches and druids always get my attention.

Thank you for the entry.

freda.mans[at]sympatico.ca

GFDesignz said...

I love fairy tales. They let me escape into a world where anything can happen even the extraordinary!

girlfrienddesignz(at)gmail(dot)com

Milka said...

What I really love about fairytales is the fact rhat by reading them you can escape the reality for a while. Also they normally have happy ending which is great.

milkavainamo@lyseo.edu.ouka.fi

carolsnotebook said...

Well, you've convinced me that I need to give McKillip a try either which way, but I'd love to be entered.

carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com

Alyce said...

I like the magic of fairy tales. :)

This book looks like something that would really appeal to me - both the living in the library part and the language translation.

akreese(at)hotmail(dot) com

Llehn said...

I like fairy tales because it is always plot driven and I'm a plot kind of girl!

lesly7ch(at)yahoo(dot)com

okbolover said...

this book sounds awesome! pls enter me!

the one thing I like about fairy tales, there's always a version which isn't so sugar coated and much more macabre and horrific. Those are fun to read :D

sensitivemuse at gmail dot com

Marie said...

I love fairy tales because I can escape -- no matter how grim the fairy tale may be it still counts as escapism to me :-)

marielay@gmail.com

Rebecca said...

I love fairy tales because they're set in foreign places and have a fantasy element.

everythingtodowithbooks@gmail.com

Ryan G said...

I love fairy tales for the sense of whimsy and morality that they all seem to have at the core. I would love to win this book, thank you so much for holding the contest.

fforgnayr@yahoo.com

throuthehaze said...

I like fairy tales for the escape into a fantasy world.

Raelena
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Callie said...

Dey@mts.net
I like fairy tales because I like fairies because they are smallish like me and wear pretty clothes.

christin said...

I love that fairy tales can just transport you to a different time and place and your imagination can just run wild:) Thanks!
christinbanda at yahoo dot com

The Book Owl said...

I like fantasies because of their rich detail and their ability to take you to another time.

McKenzie
mac.attack17(at)yahoo(dot)com

heidenkind said...

I like fairy tales because they show that life is difficult and unfair, but you can still get what you want if you act with courage. :)

Lizzy said...

Don't enter me in the drawing, but I wanted to say that this author sounds really interesting. Thanks for spotlighting her, I'll be sure to keep an eye out for her books

Katrina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katrina said...

I do not like the predictability of fairy tales but I do love the magic they express.

I deleted my last comment to add this

Khal5671 AT gmail.com

Wanda said...

What I love about Fairy tales is that they carry me away to another world and help me forget about day to day worries.
wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

christine said...

I have not read many fantasy books but am so interested in learning and discovering the genre. I am always so happy to find recommendations. Why do I love fairy tales? Because they are actually pretty darn scary!

Please enter me and thanks!
christinezeg(at)gmail(dot)com

Tia said...

I like fairy tales because they put real world issues, which are often so muddled, in terms that are understandable. While they don't necessarily reflect real life, they do allow us to consider the issues of good and evil in a digestible way.

Fun giveaway!

christina.baulch(at)gmail(dot)com

allisonrocks said...

Hi! I like fairy tales because it lets you take a break from the real world and it is fun to imagine.
hyperallison@gmail.com

Sheere said...

I love the magic that those books have. Fantasy is my favorite genre and fairy tales have always a darkest side...

sheere.dry@gmail.com

Robin said...

Okay, count me in! I love Patricia McKillip's writing and I haven't read this one!
Robinsblog(at)gmail(dot)com

Stacie said...

I like the Happily Ever After.

simplystacieblog at gmail dot com

xxsquigglesxx said...

I like fairy tales because they are an escape from reality.

squiggles87(at)aol(dot)com

Aimee said...

I love the way fairytales are like strange colourful prisms of real life, like in a kaleidoscope. You can twist and turn them, and they offer up different shapes each time, but you can always make out some shape thats familiar to you- just like you can sense emotions or characetrs or propositions in fairytales that are similar to your own life. :)

-Aimee
http://myflutteringheart.blogspot.com

email: myflutteringheart@hotmail.com

KIWI said...

hmm what I like most about fairytales? I'd have to say the retelings :) Granted sometimes the original is much better but I do love reading how other people retell the stories!

Thanks for the giveaway!

kikala(dot)street(at)gmail(dot)com

Tena said...

I love fairy tales because anything goes... there are no limits, no boundries!!

Great giveaway

tenasocal(at)aol(dot)com

Heidi V said...

You get a little escape from the real world.

Thanks
heidivargas [at] live dot com

Lindsay's Photographys said...

I would LOVE to win this!!
Thankyou!! :D:D:D
I LOVE fairy tales!!

-Lindsay

lindsay15photo@gmail.com

bookbutterflyangel said...

I love fairytales because...well, they are so magical and give free rein to the imagination. Plus, they're fun to rewrite! :D

Thanks for holding this contest! :D This sounds like such an interesting book!

~Jacqueline (bookbutterfly)
lady.dashti(at)gmail(dot)com

CherylS22 said...

I like fairy tales because they are an escape to a different world.
megalon22{at}yahoo{dot}com

Ryan G said...

I just bought this in hardcover for $1 at the Library Book Store. It's in great condisiton, donated book not old library book.

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