The Girl With No Name tells the story of a young sorceress who, as the title suggests, lacks a name. She is brought up by an old man after the death of her mother, and learns quickly to hide her magical abilities from those around her. The girl embarks on a quest to find her father, taking her to different lands where she meets a variety of different people.
I feel lucky to have read part of this on Fictionpress before it was published on Kindle. As soon as it was taken down, and I found out where I could read the rest, I couldn’t help but buy it. It’s one of those books where you just really, really have to know what happens.
It’s also the second book in a row which can be described as a sort of modern-day fairytale (though lacking the modern setting of Puppet Parade). The ‘modern’ feel comes from the writing itself, while the rest of the book feels rooted in the tales we’ve all grown up with. And it works wonderfully for it.
The story doesn’t linger unnecessarily, and the pacing works well. We follow this character through her journey – if she doesn’t want to stay in one place, if she isn’t interested in a specific building or group of people, it’s bypassed. Some stories are weighed down with lengthy descriptions and too much focus on the surroundings. The Girl With No Name simply shows us the same things the nameless main character would be interested in, and then moves on. We don’t get pages of what people were wearing, we get, simply, exactly what the girl is seeing.
Similarly, the characters that jump out are the ones who have an effect on her. There’s Elder, for starters, the man who brought her up, whose scenes at the beginning when he talks to the town mayor made me laugh out loud, both times I read it. There’s the bookseller who helps the girl find out where to go. There’s Leif, who when we meet him is annoying, rude and bordering on cruel. Yet the longer the girl is with him, the more we get to know of him and the more I, anyway, grew to like him.
There’s a sense of rhythm throughout the piece, and the words themselves have this kind fairytale like feel. It’s a book I imagine would be a delight to read out loud, and if there were any kids around, I’d probably end up reading it to them as a bedtime story. Not to say it’s a kid’s book. It’s more an all ages book, something everyone can get a lot of delight from.
On top of all that, we get to see this girl grow up. We see her coming of age, see as she discovers not just the world around her but herself, too. We witness as the girl grows into her own skin, as her motivations and desires are formed and shaped by what she experiences on her quest.
The Girl With No Name was a pure pleasure to read, a great story with wonderful characters and a great sense of what really makes a fairytale readable again and again and again.