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Miss Clark

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The Rising
Kelley Armstrong
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There
Ana Juan, Catherynne M. Valente
The Mark of Athena
Rick Riordan
Princess of the Silver Woods
Jessica Day George
The Serpent's Shadow
Rick Riordan
The Demigod Diaries
Rick Riordan
Marissa Meyer
Curse of the Thirteenth Fey: The True Tale of Sleeping Beauty
Jane Yolen
The Sandman: The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozie
William Joyce
Perfect Scoundrels
Ally Carter
Taash and the Jesters - Ellen Kindt McKenzie 3.5 stars

A very original and inventive tale of a young orphan, Taash, who had been raised in a cruel and abusive home in a village where he was treated like scum until the day the local witch was given the care of him. Of course, Bargah is not quite the witch she is made out to be and she, along with her companions, a young girl about seven or eight, and Kashka, a jester to the king, give Taash a home and an education and a family. It takes him a long while to warm up to them, but he starts to open up. He looks up to Kashka and idolizes him. All the while, there are hints that there is something sinister after Taash and that he is not just some orphan.

Taash gets dragged through a pool into a glen where he sees some witches with a baby performing some ritual. He snatches the baby and runs away. He calls the baby Teyal and is given shelter by a shepherd family. Eventually, after rumors about the missing infant prince start to get around, Taash knows he has to get the child back to his parents, so he sets out with Teyal and Lia, the eldest daughter of the family with whom he was staying. They are joined by Piff, another jester with an uncanny resemblance to Kashka. They are beset by danger and enemies but in the end, after being reunited with Bargah and Kashka, they are able to return the young prince to the king and queen, unmask the evil, cunning courtiers (although the witch Lady Ysene got away) and it is revealed that Taash is actually the king's younger brother who was stolen away as a toddler to be used in much the same fashion as what Ysene and her witchly sisters had planned for Teyal if Taash had not rescued him. It was Kashka who foiled her plan back then. So, all ends pretty well other than Ysene being on the lam.

I would have loved for more characterization between Kaskha and Piff and Taash. More background on Bargah. And what happened to Lia? Such an abrupt ending, alas. Still, fun read.