When a child goes missing from the Orphan House in the town of Stone-in-the-Glen, the mayor suggests the kindly Ogress is responsible, but the orphans do not believe that and try to make their deluded neighbors see the real villain among them.
Barnhill wants us to see ourselves in this mob, herding like sheep behind the mayor’s slogans...But her implication is less that people are pulled to darkness and more that they are dazzled by the wrong kind of light ... In bright and dexterous prose, Barnhill assures us that the curse is broken, the warmth of Stone-in-the-Glen restored. And yet there’s a lingering unease. Dragon Man may be gone, but fires like his have a curious way of restarting.
Barnhill tells her story in loops and layers, delighting in invention and magic, in the preening personalities of crows, the mysterious knowledge of cats, in oak trees that tell stories and libraries that hold an infinite number of books.
Barnhill’s gift for storytelling immediately draws readers into this character-driven tale where dragons lurk, crows prove great friends, and an unusual narrator relays events with a unique perspective. These fairy-tale trappings cloak modern lessons and timeless ideals that readers will do well to take to heart, no matter their age.