Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
Stories about stories are one of my favorite kind of stories.
I'm not sure exactly how to classify this particular book. It isn't quite fairy tale, though it has some of the elements to it that could make it so. It isn't quite myth, though it has elements from Persephone in it. And it certainly isn't a happy sort of tale, but it isn't a sad story either. Have I ever mentioned how much I love bittersweet endings?
The story begins with a peasant girl named Keturah getting lost in the woods after following the hart she has so often told stories of around the village fire. It is then that she meets Lord Death and learns her fate. Heartbroken for the love that she has yet to find, she tempts Lord Death into letting her live for the chance of it - and for the chance to save her home from the plague she now knows is coming. What follows is a match making quest with her dearest friends, lemon pies, magic charms and a love story that even Keturah does not see coming.
The writing is beautiful and dramatic, the characters are deep and even the daily life of the village is interesting to read about. It's a story about story telling and about what truly loving something is. If I had to make a list of the top ten books people should read, this would certainly be on it.