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The River's Gift Mass Market Paperback – October 2, 1999
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Fifteen-year-old Ariella, lady-to-be of medieval Swan Manor, possesses magical healing abilities that she practices on the animals in the forest adjacent to her father's lands. One day a magnificent black horse emerges from the nearby river in need of her ministry. The horse is Merod, and he is a more-than-mortal Kelpie, a magical being who converses telepathically with Ariella. Distrustful at first, he warms to Ariella gradually, which is vital to her when, after her father's sudden death, she is taken away by a brutish cousin to be his bride. Prolific fantasist Lackey deviates from her 400-plus-page norm to write a story that, in development, tone, and scale, harks back to the fairy tales of George Macdonald. If it doesn't match the charm of those Victorian gems, it is agreeable enough, perhaps best in the descriptive passages about the harvest at Swan Manor and the journey of Ariella's virtual abduction by her cousin. Ray Olson
From Kirkus Reviews
New fantasy, with few and tiny pages, from the author of The Black Swan (p. 496), etc. Beautiful 15-year-old Ariella of Swan Manor likes to don workaday clothes, run off into the forest, and use her magic gifts to heal sick and injured animals. One day a magical Kelpie named Merod rises from the river; from his foot Ariella withdraws the iron nail that's poisoning him, and the two become friends. Soon, Ariella is healing outlandish Faerie creatures as well as animals and the local serfs. Then her beloved father Lord Kaelin drops dead. Females can't inherit, so Kaelin arranged for a cousin, Lord Lyon, to marry Ariella. But Lyon is large, loud, brutal, and cares nothing for Faerie or Swan Manor; he drugs the confused, grieving Ariella and carries her off to his own castle, where he restrains her and prepares her for marriage. At last, using magic given him by a Great One, Merod arrives in human guise to rescue Ariella by transforming them both into swans. Fluffy no-brainer evidently aimed at a youngermuch youngerfantasy audience. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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I'd be happy to share this novella with my daughters.