Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher
I'm so glad I started reading T. Kingfisher's books.
Not only because they're really good and entertaining, but because finally I've found an author I can point at and say, "These. I write stories like these."
Let me clarify that I'm not trying to say I write exactly like her. But I do write the types of stories she writes, the quirky fantasy stories that aren't epic and aren't fairy tale retellings (although I may do a few of those in the future). They're something else altogether, stories set in another world where the stakes may or may not be quite as high as the world ending, but even if they are, they won't necessarily involve big, epic final battles with various armies and factions.
Those who have read my books will know exactly what I mean, and I believe that if you like my stories, you'll like T. Kingfisher's, and vice versa.
When I was only a few chapters away from finishing this book, I learned that it won the Hugo Award for best novel of the year this year (2023). I haven't yet read the other novels that were nominated, but I will say that I greatly enjoyed this one.
The main character, Marra, is the third daughter of the king and queen of a small kingdom. Her older sister is married off to a prince of another kingdom, but dies after only a short while. To preserve their trade agreements and protections, the second daughter is then married off to the same prince. Marra is sent to live in a convent, where she muses that it is better to be a nun than a princess.
It isn't long, though, before she discovers that her sister is in danger from her own husband. With no other options in sight, Marra decides to take matters into her own hands and sets out on a dangerous quest: to kill the prince.
She makes friends and finds help along the way, and the side characters in this book were absolutely amazing. There's a chapter where they have go to a goblin market, and those scenes—from getting to the market to returning to their own world—were some of my favorites.
I highly recommend this book, and am looking forward to reading more of the author's work.