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 fine… 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 year’s Christmas party gets more interesting once a mysterious stranger shows up. He teaches Clara how to crack nuts, wears a soldier’s uniform she’s never seen, and flashes a smile she’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 Faerie—a land she previously didn’t know existed.
If she stays home, her happiness will end forever. If she goes to Faerie, a great adventure awaits her…but 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 😉 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 😅 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!