A Sprig of Holly

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A Sprig of Holly

Last Free Dates: 30th Jun 22 to 2nd Jul 22
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...A short fantasy fairy tale for fans of the genre...

In the depths of winter, while collecting wood, Greta builds a snowmaiden and dresses it in her mother’s shawl with a sprig of holly attached to it, while being watched by a hare. But as the stores have run low, Greta and her Pappy are forced to collect logs from the forest. But when collecting firewood, an accident leaves Greta with a head injury and her Pappy trapped under a tree. Unable to shift the tree, and not wanting to leave him alone as night sets in, she curls up by him waiting for the end. To her surprise, the same hare she saw earlier appears along with the snowmaiden, which is now walking around. To her surprise the snowmaiden is able to rescue them and help Greta back to her house. While Greta attends to her Pappy, the snowmaiden visits their neighbour, Matthias, and despite being made of ice is able to get him to Greta’s house to help them. To thank her, the three of them plan to give the snowmaiden a present, but they are unsure what a being made of ice could possibly want.

This is a short, fantasy story harking back to fairy tales with a hint of magic within them. The story starts with the scene of the accident, before cutting back to the previous day and then forward again to the aftermath. It is a useful way to draw the reader directly into the peril of the situation instead of having a more relaxed start. Once it has returned to the scene of the accident it does follow a more linear path towards a happy conclusion. The author helps to pull the reader along through the descriptive narrative, which keeps the tension of the first part high as you wonder how they will survive. Once they have escaped, the book sets a different tone, reflecting on what has happened and what they will do in the future and how to care for one another. It feels fitting that there are only three characters in the story, though most of the attention is given to Greta and Matthias. In some ways, you don’t get a feeling for who they are, more the archetype they represent. Even so, their actions and responses to the situation make sense, apart from the conceit that there is a walking ice statue which they take in their stride.

The layout and formatting of the book are fine with a lovely front cover, apart from a couple of issues with formatting the start of some paragraphs. It was a little disappointing to have the same reader offer shown both before and after the main story. There is also a list of other works by the author including the next in the series if this work takes your fancy.

Overall, this is excellent short fantasy which feels like an old fairy tale and should be one for fans of the genre regardless of age.

Rating: 4
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