“VALIANT,” by Sarah McGuire, EgmontUSA, April 28, 2015, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 10 an up)
Every once in a while you come upon a book that you just can’t put down. Such is the case with “Valiant,” by Sarah McGuire. I was sucked in from the beginning, and spent the day trying to sneak in a chapter whenever possible.
“Valiant” is a reimaging of “The Brave Little Tailor,” which becomes apparent as soon as you start reading. But it also stands apart with a fresh and inviting departure from the original material.
Saville’s father is the Tailor. He loves his fabric and thread more than anything, including Saville. And as much as the Tailor loves sewing, Saville hates it. But when the Tailor becomes ill shortly after they move to the city of Reggen, Saville has no other choice than to pretend to the Tailor’s male apprentice, gaining a commission from the king to keep them fed.
While at court, Saville learns the city is under the threat of an army of giants. It’s just a silly story, or so Saville thinks — then two giants arrive at the city gates. When the giants threaten someone Saville cares about, she tricks the scouts into leaving, and in doing so becomes the Tailor of Reggen, hero of the kingdom.
Saville is no hero — at least not the kind people are making her out to be. By the time she reaches the palace, it is widely known that the Tailor single-handedly killed the giants and the king has promised him his sister’s hand in marriage. It doesn’t take long for Saville’s secret to become exposed, and Saville is soon swept up in court politics. But there is one thing everyone is sure of — the giants are coming and they’ll take the city at any cost.
It’s hard not to be swept up in “Valiant’s” magic. Author Sarah McGuire is a fantastic storyteller, giving equal attention to the details and the broader picture. That attention is also evident in Sarah’s characters — major and minor — who have been crafted with care and feel as real as someone sitting in the room next to you.
“Valiant” is Sarah’s first novel, and if her following novels are anything like this one, I’ll be one of the first in line to read them.
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