Review: Nutcracker of Crystalfall by Kay L. Moody

Posted December 15, 2022 by Lillian in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review: Nutcracker of Crystalfall by Kay L. MoodyNutcracker of Crystalfall by Kay L. Moody
Series: Fae & Crystal Thorns
Published by Marten Press on 2022-11-29
Length: 164 pages
Reviewing Kindle from Kindle Unlimited
Reading Challenges: 2022 New Release Challenge

The annual Christmas party was going just fineโ€ฆ until the trolls showed up.

Clara is a young woman who is wickedly good at puzzles, but she also has a secret her parents have shamed her into hiding. The weight of that secret has ruined nearly every happy moment in her life.

At least this yearโ€™s Christmas party gets more interesting once a mysterious stranger shows up. He teaches Clara how to crack nuts, wears a soldierโ€™s uniform sheโ€™s never seen, and flashes a smile sheโ€™ll never forget.

But then a cruel party guest destroys the only gift that matters to Clara. Even worse, trolls appear and try to kill the handsome stranger she only just met. The fight rages into the night. Soon, Clara has to make a choice.

She could finally escape her unloving parents and the dreadful life they have planned for her. It would only take a promise to join an even greater conflict in the magical and dangerous realm of Faerieโ€”a land she previously didnโ€™t know existed.

If she stays home, her happiness will end forever. If she goes to Faerie, a great adventure awaits herโ€ฆbut it might kill her too.

***Note*** This standalone novella takes place in the same world as the Fae and Crystal Thorns series, but it takes place much earlier. Although it is technically a prequel, it can be read at any time throughout the series.

Cute retelling! Nutcracker of Crystalfall by Kay L. Moody is a prequel novella set in the world of Fae and Crystal Thorns and a loose retelling of E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Hoffman’s story is one of my all-time favorites so it should come as no surprise that I read any and all retellings ๐Ÿ˜‰ I also really enjoy Moody’s other works so this was a treat. While I haven’t read the series this one is set in, I found no trouble jumping into the world and falling in love with it. Fans of fantasy, fae, and adventure will delight in this holiday novella.

It’s Christmas Eve, and Clara is just trying to make it through the day and forget what comes tomorrow: her wedding to an awful boy. She wants to escape, but is trapped by her circumstances. Then she meets a boy who can crack nuts with his hands and restores a gift she thought lost. Suddenly, Clara sees a potential future, a what-could-have-been if her life was different. As night falls and her parents’ guests depart, Clara finds herself looking for her Nutcracker soldier only to find him battling trolls, and she discovers a world she never knew was possible.

I adored Clara. She is a strong character and easy to root for. Her “secret” that she can’t read doesn’t stop her. She’s a fighter, knows what she wants and doesn’t want, and is willing to do whatever it takes to escape her awful family and Fritz, her betrothed. She takes what she learns in stride, not reacting at all how one might expect after finding trolls and fae in her backyard. Her desire to escape overrides her need for safety. Yet, adventure awaits, and Clara finds what she didn’t know to look for.

As much as I adored Clara, I fell in love with the fae world. There is so much to unpack about it. In this prequel, we meet Plumia (I pictured her as a tiny Sugarplum Fairy) who has bargained with Clara’s Nutcracker to save their tree. This tree isn’t any ordinary tree. It is made of pure gold and the heart of the sprites’ magic. I loved seeing this in juxtaposition with the trolls, the land of Fairfrost (where the Nutcracker is from), and all the other things Clara discovers.

Overall, I really enjoyed Nutcracker of Crystalfall. I didn’t want it to end! SO MANY QUESTIONS ๐Ÿ˜… However, this is a prequel to an already completed series and a sequel series that is mostly completed. The world building and the fantasy elements were fantastic. It was easy to sink into the world, buy into the magic system, and live in the moment with Clara. I cannot wait to dive into The Fae of Bitter Thorn now. Highly recommend this holiday novella!

About Kay L. Moody

Author Kay L. Moody

Kay L Moody is proud to be a young adult fantasy author. Her books feature exciting plots with a few magical elements. They have lots of adventure, compelling characters, and sweet romantic sub-plots. Most of her books have a dystopian flair. They include a variety of technology levels and lots of diversity in characters.

Kay lives in the western United States with her husband and four sons. She enjoys summertime, learning new things, and doing her nails.

Kay has been writing for years, and in 2018, finally decided it was time to publish. She loves books because they provide an escape from the world. She writes so that her books can provide both entertainment and edification. She believes that no matter how difficult life gets, a happy ending is never permanently out of reach.

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