Braided (Sisters Ever After #5), by Leah Cypess

I've been enjoying all of Leah Cypess' middle-grade sisterly twists on fairy tales as they've come out, but Braided, the newest in the series (May 28, 2024,  Delacorte Press), is my favorite.  It's a reimagining of Rapunzel, from the point of view of a little sister, Cinna, growing up knowing her big sister was imprisoned in a far-off tower.

Cinna is thrilled when Rapunzel is rescued and comes home again, but Rapunzel seem less than thrilled by the role of princess that's she's expected to assume.  Yes, she has the family's magical hair, that enables the kingdom to confine the fey (more or less) to their own realm (as does Cinna).  But unlike their mother, the Queen, who devotes all her energy to this task, Rapunzel just doesn't seem to see the point.  

Cinna wants Rapunzel to be the big sister she's always wanted, but Rapunzel wants more for Cinna, and for herself, than being trapped by a giant wall of responsibility.  And Rapunzel must return to the fey realm after only three days....

The bond that the two of them manage to build, and the magic and wits that they have in plenty, will save them both, despite fierce challenges both from the fey realm and from their own circumstances.  

I loved the sisterly part of the story lots, especially all the letters that Cinna wrote (but never sent) to her missing sister that start each chapter),  It was both sweet and emotionally rich, and when combined with dragons (as shown on the cover), some monsters, wonderful hair magic, and the machinations of both the fey and the people of the court, the result was a lovely gripping story! Cinna, and the reader, must question what is good and what is evil, and what they owe to others, and what they owe to themselves.

Young readers just meeting this series with Braided will almost certainly want more!

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