Design a site like this with
Get started

Review: Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher


This seemed like the perfect seasonal read. Some horror elements, some coziness, some fairytale elements, some righteous feminist anger. But unfortunately, I didn’t end up enjoying it quite as much as I wished, demon chicken notwithstanding, mostly because the beginning didn’t set my expectations correctly – I was led to expect something much darker than what the story eventually turned into.

After discovering that the prince her sisters married is an abusive piece of shit, Marra, the youngest princess who decided to join a convent instead, decides to do something about it. Namely, find a way to kill him. So she seeks out a witch who gives her three impossible tasks before she’ll help her. Oh, and did I mention that there are a bone dog and a demon-possessed chicken?

There’s a lot of things I appreciated about the story and how it twists common fairytale elements. Going to the convent is seen as something female characters in all vaguely historical books want to avoid at any cost, but Marra goes willingly and is very content there. Same goes for embroidery. And of course, killing instead of marrying a prince.

But it wasn’t a totally smooth ride. The beginning is both dark and incredibly disjointed when it comes to pacing with a lot of jumping forwards and backwards in time for no reason I could discern, while the rest of the book is entirely linear and more of a quirky adventure than horror. So expecting something dark and fucked up and more akin to The Path of Thorns from the cover and the first couple chapters, and then getting comedic undertones and an eccentric group of characters going on a quest instead…it’s quite the tonal dissonance.  Some of the worldbuilding felt shoddy too. Three of the kingdoms are named simply Northern Kingdom, Harbor Kingdom, and Southern Kingdom. It pulled me out of the story with how lazy it was.

The romance also wasn’t up my alley, but I didn’t expect it to be – T. Kingfisher’s romance subplots always seem to involve big beefy men and that’s not my preference. Which I actually didn’t mind, I was in for the rest anyway, but I do wish “the rest” ended up working for me better than it did, or at least set my expectations correctly.

It’s a lot of complaining, but I wouldn’t completely disrecommend the book.

Enjoyment: 3/5
Execution: 3/5

Recommended to: those who love folktale-inspired fantasy and/or romance subplots with nice warrior hunks, anyone looking for a quick read
Not recommended to: those expecting horror

Content warnings: abuse, mentions of rape, death of a child

2 thoughts on “Review: Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: