As her fingers move across the strings of her family’s heirloom harp, 16-year-old Clarion can forget. She doesn’t dwell on the recent passing of her beloved father or the fact that her mother has just sold everything they owned, including that very same instrument that gives Clarion life. She doesn’t think about how her friends treat her like a feeble, brittle thing to be protected. She doesn’t worry about how to tell the elegant Elena, her best friend and first love, that she doesn’t want to be her sweetheart anymore. She becomes the melody and loses herself in the song.
When Mack, a lord’s dashing young son, rides into town so his father and Elena’s can arrange a marriage between the two youth, Clarion finds herself falling in love with a boy for the first time. Drawn to Clarion’s music, Mack puts Clarion and Elena’s relationship to the test, but he soon vanishes by climbing up a giant beanstalk that only Clarion has seen. When even the town witch won’t help, Clarion is determined to rescue Mack herself and prove once and for all that she doesn’t need protecting. But while she fancied herself a savior, she couldn’t have imagined the enormous world of danger that awaits her in the kingdom of the clouds.
A prequel to the fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk that reveals the true story behind the magical singing harp.
Ballad of the Beanstalk
by Amy McNult, narrated by Kaitlin Descutner
I received a complimentary copy and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Sweet Clarion is sixteen and lives an arduous life with her mother, struggling to make ends meet after her father’s death. Her mother sells whatever they have for a little coin, even the last of their pigs, but when Clarion learns that her mother sold her precious silver harp, she feels her world is slipping away.
Clarion turns to her friends for comfort, especially her first love, Elena, but her emotions for Elena wane when she meets Mack, the son of a Lord who accepts Clarion for the individual she is. When Mack disappears, Clarion is the last to see him alive. Everyone blames her as her only excuse is that he climbed a beanstalk and never returned.
Can Clarion convince the townspeople that the beanstalk really existed? Can she successfully find Mack alive and well?
Ballad of the Beanstalk is an original prequel to the well-loved tale of Jack and the Beanstalk and brings the harp to the forefront. I listened to the audio version and Kaitlin Descutner’s tone fits the story perfectly. I had a little difficulty getting into it at first, but it quickly dropped into place and the story flowed at a smooth pace.
Amy McNult’s characters are well-described; I especially had an aversion to Clarion’s mother, whom I felt had little sentimental time for her daughter. I sympathised with Clarion, who missed her father terribly.
This story is appropriate for readers or listeners who enjoy fairytales with a twist. It is a little unconventional, bringing raw emotions and revealing the harsh realities of life.
I also recommend it to people who don’t always need a HEA