Written by: Heather Tomlinson
Released: March 30, 2010 by Henry Holt & Co.
Summary: Diribani has come to the village well to get water for her family's scant meal of curry and rice. She never expected to meet a goddess there. Yet she is granted a remarkable gift: Flowers and precious jewels drop from her lips whenever she speaks.
It seems only right to Tana that the goddess judged her kind, lovely stepsister worthy of such riches. And when she encounters the goddess, she is not surprised to find herself speaking snakes and toads as a reward.
Blessings and curses are never so clear as they might seem, however. Diribani’s newfound wealth brings her a prince—and an attempt on her life. Tana is chased out of the village because the province's governor fears snakes, yet thousands are dying of a plague spread by rats. As the sisters' fates hang in the balance, each struggles to understand her gift. Will it bring her wisdom, good fortune, love . . . or death?
Last spring I read another book by Tomlinson, The Swan Maiden, which I enjoyed but this book surpassed that one and then overlapped it. Honestly, this was so well written that at times it took my breath away. What I mean is, sure some will argue about the actual writing, but the way that it took the original fairy tale of Mother Holle and changed it was flawless.
I loved how it was taken and set in an Indian-type setting (India not Native American, and that’s mostly how the cover depicts it) and with conflicting beliefs which cause the main strife within the book. I also loved how the sister who was inflicted with snakes and toads wasn’t looked upon as cursed any more, really, than her sister who was given the jewels and flowers instead. However, I must admit that I liked Tana’s chapters more than Diribani’s purely because it made for a more captivating story with the sister who had to deal with the snakes than the one with the jewels.
True to fairy tales, there were so many problems that the characters had to face before they got their happy ending. This one also was twisted to show that it’s not always better on the other side of the fence though you still always wonder about it. It was interesting to see how the sisters were always thinking that the other one was having an easier time of things than they were, though the opposite was true.
The look on how one decision can change and entire country was also something that fascinated me with this story and how it was relatable back to history just showed how much research must have been done for such a realistic outcome with the secondary part of the story.
At the end of it all, I just have to give this book an 8/10. Really, it was great and a widely unused fairy tale, which is always fun to read.