In the Forest of Serre by Patricia A. McKillip is, more or less, a fairy tale. It has wizards, kings and queens, a princess, a prince, a witch, and a beautiful mystical creature. Yet, the novel also contains a mystery that tugs at the back of the reader’s mind as the plot unfolds. Lastly, it has a sprinkling of metaphor.
To prevent war on Dacia, the king agrees to give his daughter, Sidone, in marriage to the prince of Serre, Ronan. The wizard of Dacia, Unciel, is very, very ill. Instead of accompanying Sidone to Serre himself, he sends another wizard, Gyre. But they discover that a witch has cast a spell on the prince. Furthermore, Gyre proves to be a questionable choice to accompany the princess. Why did Unciel choose him? What caused Unceil’s illness? How can Prince Ronan be returned to his previous self?
Part of what makes In the Forest of Serre more than just another fairytale is the character of the scribe Euan. He has been asked to copy Unciel’s papers into a legible form. As Euan writes the words, he awakens memories in Unciel. Euan’s devotion and humility add a special touch to the story.
In the Forest of Serre also has a metaphoric level. What happens when someone gives their heart away? What are we worth to ourselves? How can we break the spell that has been cast on us?
I started reading In the Forest of Serre by accident, mistakenly believing it was a series of short stories. I am glad that I was treated to this pleasant story.