As luck would have it, the day Dashti enters the service of a lady is the very day said lady is bricked into a tower for seven years to learn obedience. Dashti goes along with her to keep her company and take care of her. Between fighting off rats, Lady Saren's torpor, and the unsettling attentions of Saren's two very different suitors, Dashti has her hands full. And that's just the beginning.
I love Dashti. She grows so much in this book! She starts off a simple girl from a simple way of life, unquestioningly following the laws of the land, and she becomes a strong woman, confident in herself and her abilities. The book is really Dashti's diary, so it was interesting to see her thinking and even her writing style change as she grows into herself.
Dashti's is the most obvious transformation, but Lady Saren quietly undergoes some drastic changes. She starts out a weak, irritating, ineffective girl who seems to be nothing but a chain around Dashti's neck, but sometime when you aren't looking she becomes something... more.
This is my first time reading Shannon Hale, and if this is any indication of the rest of her work, it won't be my last. I sat down to get started on this before spending a little time on the computer, and the next thing I knew I was finishing it. Seriously. One sitting. There was one part that started to drag just a little bit, but somehow a book about two girls in a tower became a page turner. I enjoyed how Dashti's "voice" changed as she changed, and I'm very impressed with Hale's skill in pulling that off.
I was thrilled to read a young adult book with a strong female lead and no love triangle in sight! Yay! I know I wrote the bit about two suitors, but believe me, there's no love triangle.
I highly recommend this all the way around.
Read "Maid Maleen", the Brothers Grimm story this is based on, on Shannon Hale's website. While you're there, you can also read an excerpt.
Here's a fan's trailer for the book.