by T. Kingfisher

I have kind of fallen in love with the stories T. Kingfisher writes in this alternate fantasy world she’s created. In this world, there are many gods, some of whom are the bad guys and evil (Hanged Mother) and some of whom are practical and helpful (Temple of the White Rat).

I just love to pieces the no-nonsense, practical, help all who ask religion of the White Rat, and in particular one lawyer-priest named Zale who is a character in other books. This book, however, focuses on Halla, a respectable widow who suddenly finds herself an heiress, locked in her own inherited house by a clammy-handed cousin, and then lord of a muscle-bound, angsty warrior cursed to live in a sword she happens to draw.

He busts her out. But then he has to accompany her on the road to the Temple to ask for help, and then back to her home to apply the help, and then back down the road for other adventurous plot reasons.

Meanwhile Halla asks alot of questions. First its annoying, but then Sarkis (the sword warrior) begins to discern how she wields her chattering questions as a defense against a world determined to push her aside. She saves them sometimes with her chattering questions, almost as much as he does with his sword.

This is a romantic fantasy, the central story isn’t just how Halla will get her inheritance back, but also how Halla and Sarkis will find their way to each other despite the stories they have constructed for themselves about their own brokenness.

And in true Kingfisher fashion, everyone except for the bad guys are helpful. Not only Zale, but random paladins they meet, etc. help them along the way. The world constructed here is just so…helpful…and snarky…and good naturedly teasing. I stayed up all night to finish this because its such a balm to the soul to hang out in.