Title: The Stillness of the Sky
Author: Starla Huchton
Rating: 3 stars
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Possible Censorship Issues: some mild thematic material (including a short, mild scene of child abuse), mild violence, magic
“Never discount the impact of the smallest kindness.”
The Stillness of the Sky is the second of Starla Huchton’s Flipped Fairy Tale series (preceded by Shadows on Snow), though it can easily be read as a stand-alone novel. Although it is a retelling of Jack (though this time Jacqueline) and the Beanstalk, it is far from the traditional narrative and adds in a fresh perspective to the tale.
After a rather sluggish beginning, the plot moves at a steady pace that drew me in and left me constantly guessing what would happen next. The story of Jack and the Beanstalk has never been a personal favorite of mine, and I was very pleasantly surprised to find myself thoroughly enjoying Huchton’s retelling of the story. It is original and clever with magic, villains, and romance woven throughout. The variety of characters (including an appearance of the Pied Piper) adds unexpected twists and illustrates how each individual is responsible for his/her own reaction to circumstances. Additionally, Huchton uses her story to exemplify how even the smallest act of kindness can alter the course of events.
Although the plot continually marches forward, it never quite fully peaks to the expected climax at the end. The story is fully resolved, but fizzles out more than it enthralls and excites. That being said, it is not a bad ending. Far from it. But I was left wanting much more of a conclusion than I received from either plot or characters, and was left with several questions unanswered.
I was also slightly disappointed by the flatness of several of the characters. It wasn’t that they lacked depth, but their personalities were never fully flushed out; the reader glimpsed certain aspects of each character, but vast portions of their personalities were very much a haze. For example, Jack’s gentle heart and desire to help others was shown to great extent, but only rarely was I ever given a glance of any other side of her nature. What were her faults and vices? Her likes and dislikes? I loved her character, but could never quite connect with her. Furthermore, there were a few instances when I personally felt that her acts of kindness were taken too far, such as grudgingly allowing a man to kiss her simply because she believed it to be kind and didn’t wish to fail him.
Overall, I enjoyed this book very much. I wouldn’t particularly say that it was fantastic or my favorite fairy tale retelling by far, but I am certainly interested in reading more of Huchton’s books in the near future. If her other plots bring the same unique elements to classic fairy tales that Stillness of the Sky did, then I would consider them very worthwhile reads.