Sixteen-year-old Gretchen has been waiting forever to trade life on a dreary orbiting station for life on gloriously regenerated Earth. Still, visiting faerie-infested Britannia is not on her agenda-especially since no human who’s ventured there has ever returned. But when her stepsister sneaks off to the island to meet a faerie boyfriend, Gretchen’s stepmother forces her to choose: risk death to rescue the runaway, or forfeit her father’s life.
Lost in the faeries’ forest, Gretchen meets a family of Bearfolk-fae who can shift between human and bear forms. Kindhearted seventeen-year-old Arthur volunteers to help, while his mother, who believes Gretchen is the heroic Silverhair of faerie legend, schemes to use the girl for darker purposes.
When the quest to save the runaway proves costly, will Gretchen and Arthur find the courage to sacrifice what they hold dearest to save the ones they love most?
What do you get when you retell the Goldilocks fable, blended with elements of Cinderella, and set the story in a distant future? Gretchen and the Bear by Carrie Anne Noble does this, exploring how humanity returns from orbital habitats. They find that not only has the post-apocalyptic earth regenerated—but so have the fey folk. This delightful fantasy/sci-fi mashup defies every expectation. Its “little bear” character is actually a dutiful were-bear son to religious bear-folk parents, and the hardworking heroine takes a dangerous mission into the forbidden Fey Land, motivated by love for her ailing father whose fate seems sealed by her greedy stepmother. Subtle linguistic allusions further elevate this novel within its unique subgenre. Twists, turns, and shockingly dramatic moments abound, and Gretchen and the Bear leaves the fairy tale flavor lingering in the palate.
Best for: Readers who love intelligent plotting, witty wordplay, and fairy tales.
Discern: Mild violence, references to poisoning, romantic innuendo, were-bear transformations.