A young faery must save her home!
Brigitta of the White Forest by Danika Dinsmore, is a little gem of a book. It is as fresh in its re-imagining of the fairy, sorry, faery world as other recent fairy novels like The Night Fairy and Violet Wings. And like those books, despite being about faeries (whose image takes a beating any time Disney gets near them) it manages to evade becoming overly sweet or sparkly.
Brigitta is a young faery just on the edge of adulthood, watching with envy and fear as some of her friends get their destiny markings, patterns which develop on a faery's wings when he or she becomes an adult. The pattern sets the faery's course in life: a certain pattern announces that this faery will be a cook; another pattern shows that this faery will take care of children, and so on. Brigitta longs for her own pattern to emerge, and yet fears the limitations it will impose. In this, she is like any adolescent desperate to grow up, and at the same time, utterly terrified.
However, when the faeries of the White Forest are turned to stone (except Brigitta and her sister, both of whom are protected by the Blue Spell), destiny markings seem unimportant. What matters is that no matter how young she feels or how unready to face adulthood, Brigitta must do the job that's in front of her -- countering the evil magic suddenly loose in the White Forest, and protecting her younger sister. The two girls set out on a dangerous quest to save their world, bickering as much as sisters do, but also managing to do more together than they would have done alone.
The story follows a fairly standard quest format: make friends, overcome obstacles, encounter mysterious elder, face ultimate evil, almost fail, eventually triumph. Like that. Yet the details are what matter, and this world is richly imagined and described, the characters believable and their journey exciting to read about. The story may be predictable seen from a distance, but up close it's new and engaging.
The book does suffer a bit from an excess of world-building. At times, fewer fancy names, foods and flowers would have made the story flow more gracefully. Yet this is not a serious flaw and never made me stop reading, even if I did skim here and there.
The author's imagination, however, is clearly an active and beautiful thing. Brigitta of the White Forest ends with the promise of more stories to come. It will be a treat to find out what surprises lie in store for us.