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Reviewed by Bil Howard for Readers' Favorite
The only thing worse than watching your beloved father take his last breath is to be exiled from your home with the threat of death if you are ever seen there again. That is the fate to Byrn, daughter of Korta, king of Fayen in The Taking of Stonecrop by E.D.E. Bell. Destined to leave her home in the middle of the night while still grieving, Byrn could slip into an idyllic life with a family to love her rather than challenge the rule of her power-mad brother who has stepped into his new role with a heavy hand. Instead, she follows the counsel of her father and waits for the proper moment to set things right for her people. Aided by a network of dwarves and elves who had been a secret part of her father’s spy network, she must risk all, including certain death if her brother discovers that she has revealed herself. As Fayen is on the brink of war, the moment has arrived for Byrn to make her stand. Will Fayen have a benevolent queen or continue under the ruthless hand of a wicked king.
E.D.E. Bell does an excellent job of drawing the reader into The Taking of Stonecrop through a deep sense of emotional attachment to Byrn in the early moments of the book. Through her, we learn of the great king’s benevolence and her sibling's hunger for power, the son who has taken his place. Because of her humility and eagerness to serve her people rather than rule them, we find Byrn to be the perfect heroine to follow. Through the fantasy elements of the elves and dwarves and their special skills, the mystery of how the changes we see are perhaps really effected by a force that we do not understand is brought to light. Delightful, simple, yet engaging, The Taking of Stonecrop is impossible to put down until you have reached the end.