by Mary Brown
This is a curious fantasy story I found picking up books at random in a secondhand shop one day. It’s got the usual fantasy elements: knights and dragons, talking beasts, witches and unicorns and ladies in distress. But the story is rather unique. It’s about a girl so ugly she always wears a mask, and a group of animals she can communicate with, all held captive by a witch. They escape when villagers form a mob against the witch, and then must embark on a journey to learn how to rid themselves of a curse she left on them.
Each of the characters- the woman, a cat, crow, toad, goldfish and kitten- has a stone (or jewel?) embedded in its flesh, that torments it. On the journey meet up with a unicorn who has a broken horn, and a knight in rusty armor, also cursed by the witch. They each have to face a particular trial that only the individual can overcome, and find a way to rid themselves of the stones.
Unfortunately I don’t remember too much more about the book. I recall liking the characters and the unique storyline, but it got rather tedious how much the characters kept bemoaning their fate and feeling sorry for themselves. I don’t recall the ending at all now, and I’m wondering how a goldfish got carried around on a journey- in a bowl? I’m curious enough to seek out the book again. I think I’d like to try a few more by this author, as well. Anyone read her works?