Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson
A very different sort of fairy tale fills the pages of this week's book. Gone are the forests filled with dear, the little fairies, glass slippers and princesses. This is a story about two sisters who live in poverty until they are visited by a goddess. One sister is blessed to speak flowers and jewels, the other cursed to speak toads and snakes. The two are separated by this twist of fate and set off on very different paths while they search for a reason behind the gifts and to figure out what is a blessing and what is a curse.
This book is a very fast read, and the author has a gift for description that makes it a true delight. The two sisters are both excellent characters and I was glad to see a version of this tale where there was no bad sister and where the two had a strong bond. The book questions blessings and curses - making a point of the fact that they are often not as they seem at first and sometimes may even be the same thing.
I enjoyed this book and would recommend it for anyone who likes books about far off exotic places and tales of curses/blessings. It really does have a lot going on and a bit of something for nearly everyone. I will say, however, that it does deal with religious themes in a way that is very hard to ignore. While I know many people would not be bothered by this, I do feel as if I should point out that this is there for those that do, as it came upon me rather unexpectedly.