Intellectually challenging, creative fantasy novel, completely enjoyable by both adult and older child readers. Violet is a princess, but not the lovely, kindly princess with long beautiful hair she hears about in princess stories. Violet’s face is a bit lop-sided with blotchy skin. Her eyes don’t match; her hair is uncontrollable. Actually, Violet herself is uncontrollable. She constantly sneaks away from her teachers to hear stories from Cassian, the royal storyteller. She often sneaks out of the castle completely, where she becomes intense friends with Demetrius, son of the royal stockman.
As we observe Violet and Demetrius explore hidden parts of the castle and hear stories about the 12 gods who supposedly created their peculiar world, they also discover that there was a 13th god that no one speaks about. It is the Nybbas, an evil, destructive god who is locked inside the castle’s mirrors. An unwise interaction with a strange mirror and a mysterious book places Violet under the control of the Nybbas. When Violet’s father mounts an expedition to capture the last living dragon, the security of their castle – and of the world itself – begins to unravel. The Nybbas wants out of his mirrored prison.
There are odd, unexpected twists to the story and we wonder if this is a fantasy that will change into a science fiction novel or some new synthesis of old traditions. The characters are deep and striking. It’s hard to stop reading.