Lately in my speculative fiction reading (primarily science fiction and fantasy novels) I've been drawn to quiet, sometimes cranky, honorable characters who aren't super flashy, but persist in their quests because it's the right thing to do. Nettle & Bone satisfied that reading niche perfectly. Not only does this describe the heroine protagonist, but it does her male counterpart as well. I loved it.
"This isn't a fairytale where the princess marries a prince. It's the one where she kills him."
Marra is the princess, but she's third-born and thus not much use to her mother, the queen, or their small kingdom. So she spends her days, not unhappily, in a convent. She's fine with being the forgotten third daughter, but her contented existence is shattered after she loses both of her sisters to the same abusive prince. Her eldest sister was married to him to cement an alliance between their kingdoms and mysteriously died. Now her second eldest sister has been sent to him as a replacement and Marra becomes convinced that it will only be by killing him, the prince, that she'll be able to save her sister. In order to achieve her goal, Marra seeks help from a dust-wife who sets her 3 impossible tasks. And that's just the beginning of her quest (suicide mission?). Her road trip will take her into a fairy-market and a neighboring country. Along the way she'll meet up with a bone dog, a demon-possessed chicken, a fallen knight, and a fairy god-mother.
This was a lovely, charming, funny, warm, adventurous, hopeful, sad...all the adjectives, book. The world-building was original and all the magical elements and people played their parts to perfection. Just writing this review makes me want to read the book again. I envy all of you who have not yet done so.