Patricia C. Wrede, the master of fantasy who brought us the Enchanted Forest Chronicles (Dealing with Dragons, etc), has a new groundbreaking young adult fantasy. Pat will be reading and signing at DreamHaven Books at 6:30 on October 18, 2023.
The young hero of The Dark Lord’s Daughter, Kayla, is transported to a fantasy world (from the Minnesota State Fair!), by a man who isn’t after all role-playing as a knight. There, she learns that she is really Xavrielina, the daughter and heir of the now-deceased Dark Lord of Zaradwin Castle. Like many fourteen-year-old heroes, Kayla is smart and practical, and not especially thrilled at the idea of becoming a possibly evil Dark Lady (or of being named Xavrielina). She mostly wants to go home.
But, of course, the only way out of most adventures is to get through them. Kayla has a rare advantage over most adolescent heroes—her adoptive mother and obnoxious younger half-brother are both kidnapped with her. Even rarer, Kayla’s mother is also smart and practical; well-prepared and surprisingly supportive. Her brother is a smart-mouth, but can occasionally be useful too.
Helpful quotes (from “The Dark Traditions”) at the beginning of each chapter inform the reader that actual evil is expected from this world’s Dark Lords and Ladies. Happily, the instructions about terrorizing the locals and eliminating the competition are so over-the-top that Kayla cannot possibly take them seriously. The relief of the locals and competition is delightful to watch.
In 1990, when Dealing with Dragons was released, it was unusual for a princess to go around rescuing princes and dragons. Today it is unusual to find a fantasy where family is strong and encouraging without overshadowing the young hero’s story. This is a fun read for young adults of all ages or read-aloud for younger kids.