In the first few pages of Soulstring, I was worried that I was reading another book about a spoiled princess who was going to do nothing but complain about how hard she suffered in her privileged life. But by page thirteen, I was deeply engrossed in the story of a young woman who is hated by her parents for the sin of being the firstborn and a girl. Soulstring is a high fantasy story about a young woman who has to discover a way to reclaim the magical power that has been taken from her by her father, wrapped inside a retelling of the Tam Lin myth.
Midori Snyder has the gift of being able to write deeply fascinating characters and show personalities through dialog that many authors lack. She builds a detailed world without a lot of excess prose. In a slender volume of 182 pages she creates two competing countries, and different cultural groups within those countries. The terrain plays an important role in the story, and Snyder paints a vivid picture of this setting. At places, her descriptions get repetitive, especially in contrasting the clothing of the de’Stain family with that of the other noble houses of Moravia, but this stops after the first few chapters. My other major criticism of the book is with the head of house de’Stain — the villain. It always bothers me when authors who manage to write multidimensional protagonists write antagonists who act like they have stocked up on evil at a warehouse store.
Soulstring is well paced, with increasing intensity as the action progresses. The romance between the two main characters is typical for a fairy tale, but handled with sweetness and a gentle touch. Using her heroine, Magda, Snyder plays with gender role concepts and what it means to be a hero. The climax of the story also turns the spoiled princess cliché on its head in a thoroughly satisfying way. I particularly enjoyed the way the story was brought round in a thematically complete circle in the final pages.
Midori Snyder is a gifted writer. The story of the soulstring resonates with mythic weight, as if it is an old tale from some tribal memory that the reader possesses. I can highly recommend Soulstring for any reader who enjoys high fantasy novels or retellings of old fairy tales.