Damsel in Distress by Lee French
Posted by brriske
Given the burden of safeguarding a precious treasure at a tender age, Sabetia is placed squarely in the middle of a fantastical legend. Swords, demons, magic, a curse: it has everything a great epic tale should. All she needs to do is face the danger that could threaten the world if left unchecked. If only it were so simple. A hero could solve this problem, but she doesn’t happen to be one.
A good wife is obedient, patient, obedient, quiet, obedient, doting, and above all, obedient. Sabetia was raised to be a good wife. It makes her perfect prey, a perfect damsel in distress.
This book opens in a classic fantasy/dungeon crawl fashion, anyone whose ever played D&D or read any of the novels based on the popular role playing game will recognize the setting. A group of adventurers band together in order to survive the search for treasure, when one inevitably gets cocky and ends up causing mayhem for the entire party. Then we move to meet Sabetia Kayles, a seven year old girl who is tormented by her mother and loved only by her grandmother and her maid Myra. Her grandmother gifts her with a family heirloom, a jewel with a story that won’t mean much to Sabetia until she is much older. Sabetia and her parents attend the funeral of a prominent local Earl, where, instead of placing her flower on the altar like all the other attendees, she hands the flower to the dead Earls son. He takes the flower, asks after her name and thanks her. This tiny act of compassion gains her the eye of the High King, and more importantly of his daughter High Princess Caitlin. The Princess and Sabetia become unlikely friends who grow closer over the next few years, until they are both to be hand-fasted and eventually wed. Princess Caitlin decrees that they shall have a double wedding to mark this new chapter in their lives, and the wedding goes off with barely a hitch.
What follows is a heartbreaking tale of abuse, and of the harsh realities that women suffering domestic abuse have to face every day. Add to that a tale of survival, a quest of world changing proportions, and a fight to end the cycle of abuse and lies and you have a powerful story, with an even more powerful message.
I really enjoyed this book, I have always enjoyed the fantasy genre a la Dragon-lance and the like…and this story does not disappoint. The story is well thought out, and the two main story lines are woven together seamlessly. The author sets up the story beautifully and little details that seem insignificant in the beginning really come back later in a big way. It took me 5 hours to read this book from beginning to end, it kept my attention the entire time. I definitely felt for the characters and their situations, and really became invested in the outcome, hoping for it all to end well. To be honest, I have nothing negative to say about this book. The author took a powerful subject like domestic violence and made the information available to a whole new population of readers. Most of the books that deal with this kind of subject matter are usually set in the modern era, so it was especially nice to see that this wasn’t the same and that it really went off into an unexpected direction.
I give this book 5 out of 5 fangs.
Lee French lives in Worcester, MA with two kids, two bicycles, and too much stuff. She has written several books, including the Maze Beset superhero novel trilogy. In addition, she is an avid gamer and active member of the Myth-Weavers online RPG community, where she is infamous for finding unexpected ways to use squirrels. She also trains year-round for the one-week of glorious madness that is RAGBRAI, has a nice flower garden with absolutely no lawn gnomes, and tries in vain every year to grow vegetables that don’t get devoured by neighborhood wildlife.