The Tower Steps by Aelth Faye

The Tower Steps by Aelth Faye
(Fairytale Hour #2)
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Romance, Historical
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Marjoram has lived in her tower since her parents gave her to the witch to protect her family from her magical accidents. She sometimes wishes she could leave the tower, but she hates her magic and refuses to learn to control it, a prerequisite for getting out. The gardener boy exchanges letters with her, and she is content to stay a prisoner. But one day her foster mother brings a doctor who specializes in helping people like Marjoram. But the friendly doctor has dark secrets…

Who would have ever guessed that stealing a few herbs from a neighbor’s garden could be so life changing?

Marjoram was the quintessential fifteen-year-old girl in the best possible way. She was old enough to have nuanced conversations with her foster mother, but she wasn’t quite old enough to make the same decisions that an adult would make given the same experiences. Sometimes her impulsiveness made me shake my head, but I was impressed by how well the author captured what it’s like for a teenager to repeatedly butt heads with the people around her because she’s not quite developmentally ready yet to make other choices instead.

I would have preferred to see more character development in this novella. The first book in this series had a generous amount of it, so I was a little surprised by the reduced amount of attention it was given here. Marjoram was definitely amusing, but she didn’t grow and change from her experiences as much as I thought she could have. Her childhood was such a unique one that it sure seemed like it could have been the catalyst for something amazing in this area of the storyline. If that had been the case, I would have gone with a much higher rating as I liked everything else about it.

The world building was handled nicely. Marjoram grew up in such an isolated home that she and the audience had only the most rudimentary knowledge of the outside world. It was a great deal of fun for me as a reader to piece all of those scraps of information together and try to figure out how they should be interpreted. Some of them could easily be taken in multiple contradictory ways, so it required critical thinking to narrow down the possibilities. That’s exactly what I like to see when an author is describing the world their characters live in.

This is the second installment in a series, but it can be read as a standalone work.

The Tower Steps was a memorable retelling of Rapunzel, the classic German fairy tale, that I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys the fantasy genre.

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