Five years ago, a powerful witch named Reagan cast a Spell of Without on the Queen of Ever and her five daughters, each of whom succumbs on her 13th birthday.
Jane, the eldest at 17, can’t eat; Nora can’t love; Alice can’t sleep; Grace can’t remember; Eden will soon have no hope; and the queen lies in stasis in a glass box. After Reagan returns from her banishment, she comes to terms with the consequences of her actions, borne of rage, which could destroy the complex balance between witches and royals. She has four days to Undo the spell before her 18th birthday, when it becomes permanent (and for Jane and Alice, deadly). Jane crosses the castle’s moat for the first time (royals must maintain a Royal Distance from their subjects) to gather the objects needed to break the spell, and after learning Reagan’s reasons, Jane must reconsider everything she thought she knew about witches, the people of Ever, and her beloved father. Quirky details enliven Haydu’s magic-infused world, and themes like sexual assault and rampant misogyny are deftly explored while allowing for hope and healing. There are a few surprises, but Haydu doesn’t rely on gimmicky twists: This one is all about compassion, female solidarity, fighting for change, and smashing the patriarchy. Jane’s family and Reagan are white, Alice is trans, Grace is lesbian, and royals, witches, and ordinary citizens are diverse in skin tone.
A fiercely feminist #MeToo fairy tale. (Fantasy. 14-18)
– Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2020
For the last five years, 17-year-old Princess Jane has been unable to eat due to the Spell of Without. Cast by young witch Reagan, the Slow spell can’t kill Jane, but it has trapped the Queen of Ever in a glass box and withheld love, hope, memory, and sleep, respectively, from Jane’s younger sisters upon their 13th birthdays. With only four days to break the spell before it turns True—and deadly—Jane must join forces with Reagan. But breaking it requires discovering the truth about Jane’s father, the king, and the reason for the inequality between the monarchy and the hungry townspeople. Haydu (Eventown) peppers the novel, told in alternating perspectives by Jane and Reagan, with familiar fairy tale symbols and tropes made fresh through attention to the inventive history of the witches that protect Ever. Affecting scenes showcase the threat of sexual violence that the kingdom’s females face from powerful princes and kings who deem resistors hysterical, and a breathless stream-of-consciousness style echoes the feelings of the two young women contending with Ever’s history, outdated beliefs about princesses and witches, and the way forward in a broken kingdom. Ages 14–up. Agent: Victoria Marini, Irene Goodman. (July)
– Publishers Weekly *STARRED*, June 1, 2020