Review posted October 18, 2022.
Amulet Books (Abrams), 2022. 288 pages.
Review written September 30, 2022, from an advance reader copy I got at ALA Annual Conference.
Windswept is a new fairy tale, crafted full of references to the old Norwegian fairy tales, and some influences from the Brothers Grimm. Since I read lots of fairy tales as a child, I appreciated the way this one wove in themes that show up again and again.
And since they're Norwegian fairy tales, there have to be trolls! Expect some danger from trolls, and you will not be disappointed.
This fairy tale is set in a future earth without technology, with people living in villages, governed by the Powers That Be. There are lots of artifacts around from the Other Times -- especially plastic, which is cluttered all over the place. But the Powers That Be have declared the only books Youngers should read are field guides and factual things like that.
But above all, Youngers must be kept indoors. We're told the tale from the perspective of Tag, whose real name is Hyacinth, but who was always a tagalong to her three older sisters. But one fateful day almost seven years before her adventure begins, their guard fell asleep and Tag's sisters went Outside. Tag was slow getting her shoes on, and didn't quite make it over the threshold, so she saw with her own eyes the snow squall that suddenly descended and the wind that swept her sisters away.
In the seven years since, her father spent all his money looking for them, and died of a broken heart. Instead of keeping a guard, her mother keeps Tag indoors, with all the windows and doors boarded up. There's one little knothole through which she can see a piece of the Outside.
But one day another eye appears on the other side of the knothole, and then an invitation pops through.
And when Tag finds a way to accept the invitation, encouraged along by something with a bit of magic, she finds four other Youngers and a little dog who are also defying the Powers That Be. They decide together to do something. And together, they set out on a quest to rescue their siblings, who were all windswept like Tag's sisters.
Their quest is full of fairy tale logic and a little chaotic, but involves finding what they need to help along the way, with old crones to advise them. Not to mention trolls! And of course the ever-present danger from the wind. And they'd better watch out for small curses.
Of course, one of the best things about Norwegian fairy tales is you often have a little girl doing the impossible and overcoming against all odds. This tale falls nicely into that category.