by Anne Ursu
illustrated by Erin McGuire
on shelves September 27
Here's a snippet, a "crumb," as it were, of one of our favorite fall books. You won't want to miss this one!
"She stepped outside, and then stopped and stared. The small garden was just a slip of earth on the side of the house, but it seemed like its own universe. The sweet, sharp scent of hundreds of flowers greeted her. Even in the night their colors sang. It was a thick, lush blanket of color—luxurious purple and electric blue and sunshine yellow and cheery red. It was like a movie version of an enchanted garden, gorgeous, vivid, and too beautiful to be real. She could dive into the purple of the violets and live there.
She felt suddenly that she wanted for nothing in the world. The flowers called to her, like they had secrets to tell—Rose, come on. Hazel found herself lying down on the cushioned white bench that sat among them, and their fragrance reached up to welcome her.
Sleep pulled her back immediately, wrapping her in the sort of haze that presses down on you and you’re not sure it will ever let you go but you’re not sure that you ever want to leave. It was so peaceful there in the fog. She wanted for nothing.
And then the flowers began to whisper to her. The noise did not belong. It pulled at her brain like longing, and Hazel wanted it to go away.
They did not stop whispering. The flowers had secrets. They had names, too, though the couple in the cottage called them Daisy, Lily, Hyacinth, Violet, Dahlia, Jasmine, Poppy, and they did not remember the ones they had before. They told Hazel that she must listen.
Daisy grew up in a house with a stream in back, and behind it were some woods. She and her friends Isabelle and Amelia played in them all the time when they were little kids, even though they weren’t supposed to. Daisy’s mother liked to keep her eye on them, and the trees blocked herview. And then Daisy got sick and could not play anymore. Her friends stood by her bed telling her of the things they did, but after a while they stopped coming. Daisy snuck out of the house one morning, dragging her muscles and bones with her, and crept into the woods. She came upon a wizard who lured her in with healing whispers but did not mean her well. She ran, and a kindly couple took her in.
She was a flower now. She missed her friends and the games they’d play in the woods. They were princesses once, charged with saving the kingdom from a dragon, and whoever could defeat it would be queen. Daisy used strength, Amelia wits, and Isabelle fell in love with the dragon, because that’s the sort of girl she was. She rid the kingdom of the dragon, and then made it its king."