{A Twist in the Tail: Review/Giveaway} DEAREST by Alethea Kontis

Sorrrrrrrrry, bookworms! I'm a day late with A Twist in the Tail.
But hey, it has a giveaway attached, so...
Forgive me?

Love fairy tales and mythology?
Fans of mermaids, dragons, unicorns, and other mythical creatures?
Enjoy when a beloved classic tale is retold?
A Twist in the Tail Thursdays features all this and more!

In Case You Missed It:

I previously reviewed both ENCHANTED and HERO,
along with my review of her novella BLOOD & WATER!
(And an interview with ENCHANTED cover designer Christine Kettner!)

Alethea Kontis has also stopped by A Backwards Story several times to talk about her books, fairy tales, mermaids, and more because she's awesome like that! *loves her*

Here's her interview about ENCHANTED!
a flash fiction piece entitled "Well Behaved Mermaids Rarely Make Fairy Tales,"
a guest post on "Families in Fiction,"
a guest post on "The Real Peter Woodcutter,"
and two of her famous fairy tale rant videos, one about Rapunzel and one about Cinderella and how it inspired her novel ENCHANTED!

Stop by A Backwards Story next week for a brand-new guest post with Alethea!

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

    CONRAD SLOWED HIS PACE, not because he lacked energy, but because the hard calluses on his feet had cracked and started to bleed. It had been a long, dry road from Rose Abbey, part of an even longer road that had begun in the slums of Sandaar. Conrad's battered feet had trod the length of this continent from the fiery south to the frozen north, but his soul had yet to find its destination. Omi had told him this journey would end when he found the place where his heart waited for him. He hoped Omi had not died at the hands of the sultan.
(pg. 1, US ARC edition)

If you're looking for something fun and whimsical set in the framework of a fairy tale, look no further than an Alethea Kontis novel. Kontis excels at mixing together tales and making them work together. Her books are always a delight, and DEAREST is no exception. It conforms to the high expectations I've heaped upon it--the poor dear. All I want is for each book to be as good as the last, and so far, Kontis has yet to let me down. You can read all of Kontis' novels as stand-alones because they are individual stories about various members of the Woodcutter family. In DEAREST, you can see the happily wedded couple from ENCHANTED, but there is little reference to HERO because both books are occurring simultaneously in different areas of the world. DEAREST is dealing with the aftermath of an event that occurs in HERO without it being spoilery.

In DEAREST, we're introduced to Friday, a gentle soul who isn't destined to shake up the world like some of her other sisters. She's reliable and steady, and after her sister Saturday breaks the world and brings tragedy to Arilland, it is Friday whose role begins to shine. Through her very nature, she is able to gather people around her and make them love her. Children are eager to help perform chores. Men and women alike turn out to help provide food and help Friday's friend Elisa gather up thistle for the important task of turning her enchanted brothers back into human boys. Friday is especially eager to help break the enchantment because she has found her heart with one of the enchanted princes, Tristan. When the sorcerer who cursed the family arrives in Arilland and threatens war, all that Friday and her new friends have been fighting to save is in peril. Can love once again save the day, or is the kingdom finally lost once and for all?

I loved Friday so much more than I thought I would going into DEAREST. The same thing happened with Saturday's story in HERO. The two are non-traditional heroines, whose destiny may not seem as great as their more extraordinary sisters, but in reality, there is so much in store for them as well. There is a quote toward the end of DEAREST that sums up my feelings on this so well:

"Friday had always considered herself to be equal among her siblings, but by the time the ship finally came to rest in the harbor, she felt she had finally lived up to the Woodcutter name."

(pg. 258, US ARC edition)

 Kontis always finds a way to wedge each sister into my heart and make me care all over again. While I'm still anxiously awaiting Wednesday's story and I want a prequel with Thursday's backstory (And now, after DEAREST, I think there's a lot more in store for Monday, too!), I'm also so happy to have been on journeys with Saturday and Friday. Both sisters have strong tales and impact the world around them. I should never underestimate a member of the Woodcutter family. ^.~
(I also really want a tale rooted in East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon now that there are roots and groundwork laid down in DEAREST. It's one of my favorite fairy tales, and if Kontis takes it on by the head, I will be so far beyond ecstatic!)

One thing I love and appreciate so much about Kontis is how each book gets so much deeper and darker. ENCHANTED is the most frivolous and light of the three, the most traditional and straight-forward. It reads like a feel-good, whimsical tale of old and takes readers away. HERO is still my favorite of the three--something about that book just exploded my head, and I love the way the climax was handled. There's so much action and adventure and it's a thrilling page turner. DEAREST is a combination of the two. So much of the book reads straight-forward, and then the action ramps up in the back-half. There are some dark, twisted scenes I wasn't expecting, but they work so well. I can't wait to see what sort of journey lies in store in the next Woodcutter book from Kontis.
I like the way so many of the tales used in DEAREST had a common thread this time around, streamlining them concisely in an "Oh, of course it should work!" sort of way, rather than the "Wow, I can't believe that worked, how cool," sort of way I enjoyed in ENCHANTED. I could read fairy tale mash-ups from Kontis forever. Not just from the sisters, but from extended family, too, once she runs out of those. I want to stay in this world and not let go. Kontis has a strong way of evoking imagery through her words, and of balancing both the darkness and the whimsy of a fairy tale, mixing everything together and delivering an enchanting story that's hard to put down.

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG13 ( kissing; innuendo about a character's "intentions"  )
Language: PG+ ( a character mentions a villian's "bitch" when referring to a female character )
Violence: PG13 ( Death and murder )
Other:  --
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

Not my favorite of the covers, but I like the way it invokes a hint of the tale lying within. That swan is hinting at things to come. This cover has more of a classical feel to it, like the paintings you see of girls sitting by the lake with swans in the background. At the same time, swans play a heavy role in this novel, so.... it does work!

I really like the way Houghton Mifflin Harcourt etches the design into the swirls and curliques around each book's title. You don't see them unless you look. Look carefully...can you see the two swans?

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Alethea Kontis
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Received: For Review

In her third book about the delightful Woodcutter sisters, Alethea Kontis masterfully weaves The Wild Swans, The Goose Girl, and a few other fine-feathered fairy tales into a magical, romantic companion novel to ENCHANTED and HERO.

Readers met the Woodcutter sisters (named after the days of the week) in Enchanted and Hero. In this delightful third book, Alethea Kontis weaves together some fine-feathered fairy tales to focus on Friday Woodcutter, the kind and loving seamstress. When Friday stumbles upon seven sleeping brothers in her sister Sunday's palace, she takes one look at Tristan and knows he's her future. But the brothers are cursed to be swans by day. Can Friday's unique magic somehow break the spell?

TECHNICALLY, I'm not on tour until this coming Thursday
when Alethea stops by for a guest post.

Buuuuuuuuuut I've been wanting to share my review of DEAREST with you, 
so I decided to review it today and give my lovely fellow bookworms the chance to enter the giveaway a little early!


And, courtesy of the blog tour I'm on
(Stop back on THURSDAY for my official tour stop!

...I'm unofficially giving you access to the giveaway today because it's already running!
Stop  at these blogs for more DEAREST fun!

1 - Launch
2 - Lilac Reviews
3 - Special post @ Waterworld Mermaids

3 - Coffee Books & Art & The Book Lovers' Lounge
4 - Special post @ USA Today's Happy Ever After

4 - Buried Under BooksMommabears Book Blog, & Rabid Reads
5 - Interview @ J.T. Ellison

5 - Gidget Girls Reading
6 - Zerina Blossom & Geo Librarian
8 - Welcome to Book City
9 - Kelly P's Blog & Katy's Krazy Books
10 - Mel's Shelves & Jan Edwards
11 - Katie's Clean Book Collection
12 - A Backwards Story 
Wishful Endings
13 - Library of a Book Witch & The Quotable
14 - 
Biggest Literary Crushes post on @ Teen Reads
15 - The Written Adventure
16 - My Life Loves and Passion & Colorimetry
17 - I Am A Reader & The Library of the Seen

18 - Special post on @ Dear Teen Me
18 - Printcess & Living a Goddess Life & Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf
19 - 100 Pages A Day & mrsjennyreads
20 - Books and Ashes & Addicted Readers
22 - Miss Little Book Addict YA House of Books
23 - SBM Book Obsession
24 - Deal Sharing Aunt
25 - Min Reads and Reviews
26 - Pieces of Whimsy & Wonderous Reviews
27 - The Scribbling Sprite
28 - Grand Finale


Enter to win...

Win (1) of (3) Woodcutter Series Prize Packs, which include signed copies of ENCHANTED, HERO, and DEAREST!

US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I'm super excited about this book! Loved the other two and want more woodcutters!

  2. I've been intrigued by this series for a while.

  3. I was going to binge read this series thinking Dearest was the last one, but apparently there is still more to come.


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