"I will tell you . . . a story of magic and love, of daring and death, and one to comfort your heart. It will be the truest story I have ever told. Now listen, and tell me if it is not so."
After following a hart into the woods bordering her town, Keturah is faced with Death. Lost and hungry after following a stately hart through the forest, Keturah encounters Lord Death, who is ready to take her. Like Scheherazade, Keturah spins a story that she leaves unfinished and extracts from Lord Death a promise that if she finds her true love in a day, she can go free. Thus begins Keturah's search for her one true love and the salvation of her beloved town. But Lord Death is falling in love with her, and as the villagers begin to sense her alliance with this horrifying figure, her life twists and turns on itself.
Martine Leavitt offers a spellbinding story, interweaving elements of classic fantasy and high romance. The romance is intense, the writing is startling, and the story is spellbinding--and it is as difficult to turn away from as the tales beautiful Keturah tells to the people of her village, Tide-by-Rood
It's a fairytale that reminds me of things I liked in Goose Girl, both are written with such simple language and in a straightforward manner. However, neither of these things took away from Keturah's story. Keturah is kind and will do anything to keep her people safe. Once loved simply for telling a story or for being around or for being pretty, things change when she loses her way in the forest and encounters Lord Death. A bargain is struck and she is allowed back, only once home, the easy affection she'd come used to, there's fear and suspicion instead. And yet, she still wants to keep them safe... and keep herself safe too.
The characters, and not just Keturah, were all mostly lovely. Her friends, her grandmother, the townsfolk were all peculiar in tehir own right, all adding a little something to the story. Lord Death was not that much of a surprise; he's Beast to Keturah's Beauty. He wants her, loves her but would rather she come to him on her own... Nothing that surprising there really. Keturah, too is the typical fairytale heroine: she's lovely, positively lovely... nice, helpful and kind, has a way with words, and pretty to look at. Self sacrificing too. It's the people around her that complicate matters, and make it worth reading. Fearing her for her thought of fairies, hating her for talk of Death. Then plague fears, charms to find her true love, and schemes to win cook offs. All these, told in simple language, but still managed to pull me in.
Given all that: Death in love, the other peculiar characters of Tide-by-Rood, Keturah's Arabian Nights storytelling style, I say give this one a go.