The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher

No Series


Young Rhea is a miller’s daughter of low birth, so she is understandably surprised when a mysterious nobleman, Lord Crevan, shows up on her doorstep and proposes marriage. Since commoners don’t turn down lords—no matter how sinister they may seem—Rhea is forced to agree to the engagement.

Lord Crevan demands that Rhea visit his remote manor before their wedding. Upon arrival, she discovers that not only was her betrothed married six times before, but his previous wives are all imprisoned in his enchanted castle. Determined not to share their same fate, Rhea asserts her desire for freedom. In answer, Lord Crevan gives Rhea a series of magical tasks to complete, with the threat “Come back before dawn, or else I’ll marry you.”

With time running out and each task more dangerous and bizarre than the last, Rhea must use her resourcefulness, compassion, and bravery to rally the other wives and defeat the sorcerer before he binds her to him forever.

“I’m suggesting that if you’re going to bring hell down upon someone’s head, you should dress for the occasion.”

First, Cover Love.

The concept is an intriguing take on Bluebeard and his wives trope. A beautiful woman (15 yr old girl in this case) forced into marriage gets to see the horrors that await her when she explores his home, meets surviving wives and discovers some of them are dead. Sign me up for a unique story such as that – unfortunately, despite the allure drawing me, I struggled maintaining consistent interest.

There’s almost a YA feel since the protagonist is pretty young. Nothing risqué at all so this would be equally suitable for a YA novel. There were weird scenes such as Rhea fighting swans for her lunch (really, just odd), but there were clever and cool scenes like the riddles and the creepy statues. I loved the Hedgehog companion, the creepy ambience of hidden and betraying trails, and the gothic vibe of the house and how the women starting working together.

The wives are fascinating. You have a devoted and religious zealot whose scarred throat silences her, a woman who has adopted the mothering role, a beautiful and naïve woman with bandaged eyes that don’t hide her hope. Then there’s the strange clock thing, and the strange statue thing. Interesting and imaginative stuff.

The premise is strong, the writing done well, the characters haunting and suitable for the story type – but there feels like there is a lack of intensity when it comes to the parts that are supposed to be suspenseful or dramatic. The ending is satisfying but not thrilling, as is the case with a lot of the action scenes in The Seventh Bride.

The story is a direct retelling of a fairy tale and doesn’t deviate from that part to take in parts of other genres (no romance element anyway, for example), but it does throw in some humor at odd times. Humor felt a little modern age and not wholly historical, but not a big deal.

“She was still going somewhere terrible, but she had a hedgehog, dammit.”

Sometimes I did get confused with the quirkiness and time and clocks, but my mind is weird so I’m not holding that against the story, but it did sink my interest some.

Despite my interest fading out some by the end, it was still a unique book with some dark tones blending with YA Fantasy and Fairy Tale Retelling.

And Last – Cover Love!