I’m so thrilled to share an excerpt from The Prince and Her Dreamer by Kayla Bashe! This f/demigirl Nutcracker retelling looks wonderful and is out on December 12, 2018. The Clara in this story is autistic, and the author has written about how writing this story was part of their own self acceptance of their non-binary identity. I’m excited to read this!
An Excerpt from The Prince and Her Dreamer
In a splendid black cloak lined with red silk, in a flurry of snowflakes, Herr Drosselmeyer had swept into the room.
Clara ran to his side. Already the urge to talk about books bubbled inside her. “You know, I’ve been reading your novel again, the one you gave me when I was younger. How clever you must have been to think everything up.”
Visibly intrigued, he ushered her towards his favorite chair, where she perched at his feet. “Do tell.”
“Yes. You see, the Red Prince is like Joan of Arc, if God had been sensible and made her English. But she’s also like Britomart from the Faerie Queen, except with a motivation other than courtly love. And she’s a metaphor for how Jesus fought Satan during the Harrowing of Hell, because in the Middle Ages the unicorn represents Jesus,” Clara said eagerly, twisting her hands in excitement as she spoke.
“Oh, Clara, I’m sure he doesn’t want a lecture,” her mother began, but Drosselmeyer shook his head.
“No, go on, this is all quite fascinating.”
Clara beamed at his encouragement. “Besides that, the fact she’s dressed all in one color means that she’s like the Green Knight from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, who asked Gawain to chop off his head on Christmas Eve and then walks away without a scratch on him. Furthermore, the fact that she was slain in battle, but was spirited away by a wizard to lie in a deathless sleep and will one day return to free her county? That’s just like the legend of King Arthur, and how Merlin- or was it the Lady of the Lake?- spirited him away to Avalon, which in turn references the resurrection of Christ.” She sat back, breathless and proud.
Uncle Drosslemeyer raised one rakish eyebrow. “That was as good as a round of applause from anyone else. I can see you’ve been doing a great deal of reading.”
She nodded. “Mother and Father say I eat books instead of reading them, and that I’ll read them out of house and home! Fritz teases me by saying one day my bookcase will fall over and I’ll be crushed to death, but he’s just cross because I’m too busy reading to play with his toy soldiers. Have you any books for me?”
“You’ll see,” he said, and smiled mysteriously.
With some people, “you’ll see” meant no. With others, it meant yes. But with Uncle Drosselmeyer, it meant just that: a mystery. He was the one person Clara had never been able to predict.
More About The Prince and Her Dreamer
Clara feels stifled by the life that’s been planned out for her, and clings to her only hope that something more might be possible: a mysterious book given to her by herUncle Drosselmeyer, that recounts the tales of the magnificent warrior woman known as the Red Prince.
Decades ago, Drosselmeyer trapped the Red Prince in the form of a doll to save her from the Rats. When the magic of Clara’s selfless admiration restores her to human form, she and Clara must find a way to stand against the Rats once and for all if they hope to enjoy the life they’ve always longed for…
A Bit About Kayla
Kayla Bashe is a queer disabled novelist and proud cat parent. Their poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Liminality Magazine, Writers Resist, and Cicada, and their short fiction has appeared in The Future Fire, Mirror Dance, and Resistor Vol. 2, among others.
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