Utah author Julie Daines' second novel, "Unraveled: A Tale of True Love," is a story steeped in history, romance and magic. Daines' writing is crisp, her pacing is impeccable and her characters are flawed but loveable.
"Unraveled" is set in Welsh lands where superstition is excessive, but normal, and where magic is real. Daines executed flawless research in every part of this book, from the setting, to the clothing, to the food the characters ate and the words they used.
Daines, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sets up the story in the first pages by helping the reader feel the hopelessness in Bronwen's situation. During that time, a disabled girl is almost invisible, and Bronwen's future, and thus the future of her mother and their manor, is at stake. Daines weaves the themes of happiness and true beauty throughout the story as Bronwen struggles to find out how those things apply to her.
Bronwen remembers a time when she had a father, sister and brother, and they lived as lower royalty in happiness and prosperity. After a devastating illness, her feet are left shriveld and deformed and with just her mother left to care for her. When a gwyllion, or night faerie, asks for shelter at their home, Bronwen is repaid for her hospitality with a pair of wooden shoes. Bronwen finds the shoes irresistible, and once she puts them on, she discovers them possessing the ability to make her whole again. But only while she wears them.
Her mother sends her to present herself at court, something that had never been a possibility as a cripple, in the hopes to prove their worth in keeping the lands they owned.
While at court, Bronwen gets swept up in a whirlwind of excitement and lies when she gains the attention of Prince Urien, and finds a long-lost friend in Rhys, a boy who used to work for her and knows her true form. In fighting to keep secrets, Bronwen has to learn to trust that not everyone cares only about physical beauty, and decide what sacrifices she is willing to make and what her happily ever after really looks like.
"Unraveled" is a clean, sweeping, magical romance.