"The Hero and the Crown" by Robin McKinley

What's neat about McKinley is that she revives popular legends and fairytales like Robin Hood and Sleeping Beauty. For that reason much of her work seems to straddle the line between adult fiction and young adult/children's fiction. I first encountered The Hero and the Crown when I was in fifth grade or so -- post-Nancy Drew but pre-Dean Koontz and Nightwylde. So this was a nostalgic read for me.

The story is about Aerin, the only child of a king and a reputed witch. An outcast from the moment of her birth, Aerin struggles to find her place in her father's court and chances upon her destiny in an unlikely occupation -- dragonslaying.

While not the most engaging read, this book fits the bill when you're in a fairytale kind of mood. It is slow at points but the quality of McKinley's writing is worth appreciating. And even though it's aimed towards a younger audience, both the story and the characters are sophisticated and complex.

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