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Roisin is convinced she needs nothing more in her life than her sister and the western wood. Villagers believe her forest is populated by faeries, but Ro disregards the legends, foraging each day without fear…until the night she attempts to save a red fox from a bear, and that bear turns on her.
But the bear is no ordinary woodland creature. When Ro’s sister subdues the animal with an arrow to its shoulder, a bleeding boy takes the bear’s place. Brend has no memories of who he is or how he came to be cursed in such a way, but he knows Ro’s name.
And he isn’t the only one burdened by an animal form. Raven-haired Colette is also afflicted, threatening her and Ro’s burgeoning romance. Though Ro pledges to free them both, she’s blocked and led astray by the same legends she denied for years – faeries with oak-bark skin and evergreen mouths who will go to great and fearsome lengths to see the curses played out to their ends, to see Brend and Colette locked in a deadly chase until only one victor remains.
But Ro has a power of her own. A voice she will cultivate and use to disrupt what the faeries have set in motion. Yet even if she and her sister manage to break the curses, their choices will forever alter their ties to the western wood and to each other.
Ro’s story is inspired by the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, “Snow White and Rose Red,” but within its pages you will also find a tale about outgrowing a place you once belonged to and rebelling against any life and future that is not of your own making.
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Grabo, Markelle K., "Roses in the Wood" (2018). Creative Writing Programs. 48.