The Seventh Bride, by T. Kingfisher

"I would follow this hedgehog into the mouth of hell," says Rhea, the heroine of The Seventh Bride, by T.Kingfisher (pen name of Ursula Vernon), at a difficult moment toward the end of the book.  She has reason to trust the hedgehog, which joined her on the dark and terrifying journey to her betrothed's home ("She was still going somewhere terrible, but she had a hedgehog, dammit").  Rhea, an unexceptional young miller's daughter, has been chosen by a lord to be his bride, and their difference in status is the least of the wrongnesses at work.  But at least Rhea has her hedgehog friend to stand beside her as she copes with the fact that her betrothed has been married six times before, and all but one of these wives are still alive (more or less). 

Rhea, with hedgehog assistance, completes various tasks the sadistic sorcerer lord sets her, and copes with the terror of her situation as best she can.  And in the end, with the help other wives, she wins freedom for them all.   It's a fine story, with bits that are disturbingly horrible, and Rhea is a fine heroine, and there were bits of humor (not just the hedgehog) that I enjoyed very much.   But somehow it's not a book I think I need to re-read to get more out of it--everything is pretty much right there, plot and character, without much subtle depth and nuance.  And I'm not quite sure what the point is of the tasks the evil lord sets Rhea to do, as her fate is the same regardless of whether she does them or not (he's not going to let her off marrying him), and so they were more divertissements of story rather than powerful pieces of it.  Still, The Seventh Bride makes for good reading, and I enjoyed it.

But I absolutely adore the hedgehog.   And if you enjoy fairy tale reimaginings, this might be right up your ally--it echoes both Bluebeard and The Robber Bridegroom. At the right is the cover of the ebook edition (as best I can figure); and it shows nicely some of the creepiness (zombie birds as garden décor, delivering scary advice....)

It could easily be shelved as YA, seeing as Rhea is a young teenager, but it isn't much like standard YA fantasy--there is no romance.


  1. Oh, this author sounds like one I would like!

  2. Love the idea of a hedgehog assistant. Sounds like a fun read. Thanks for the review.

  3. A hedgehog sidekick, that's amazing! Not nearly enough hedgehog sidekicks in this life so far, I think.

    1. truly. I have looked into getting one, but the nearest reputable hedgehog dealer to me is in Ohio, which is just a bit to far...


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