In a land on the edge of all that is known dwells Princess Winterhued,
erudite, beautiful, broken-hearted. The heir to her father's kingdom and raised to be queen, she is troubled by terrifying dreams and now finds the half-demented king turning against her. Slimy sycophants whisper in his ear, persuading him that a 'mere woman' is incapable of ruling, and now he ogles the princess's ladies-in-waiting and boasts of begetting a male heir.
But Winterhued's fears become as naught when a vast and ancient being comes flying on dread wings to lay siege to Castle Lawhill. Trailing fear and slaughter, it traps Winterhued and her people within the broken walls. The princess strives to save her subjects, but it seems the only one courageous enough to help her is the lowliest servant-boy in the castle.
Yet from the east, riding across wraith-haunted Iron Crag, comes a nameless knight, exiled and condemned... and a horned creature follows him, silent as moonlight.
'Lavishly conceived and vividly described, Winterhued brings to life all that is intriguing and picturesque about medieval life subtly interwoven with magic, romance, and a dash of poetic wistfulness. Alger's debut novel is a triumph!' - CECILIA DART-THORNTON, author of the Bitterbynde Trilogy
'Winterhued by E H Alger is a tale in an epic tradition. Writing in beautiful lyrical prose, E H Alger has succeeded in creating a world of rare beauty. No book I have read recently has given me greater joy than Winterhued.' - ELISE McCUNE, author of Castle of Dreams
'In this debut novel, a princess's life changes after a dragon attacks her castle.
The land of Manydown lies between the sea and Iron Crag mountain. In Castle Lawhill, Princess Winterhued is beloved by the people of her kingdom, but she's a lonely, restless soul. Her father, King Gers, is a fatuous gourmand who leaves the intellectual portions of his rule to his daughter. Winterhued, who loved someone once in her youth, wonders if she's now too old to find a worthy match. One morning, after she has another dream about malevolent wings beating from above, she bathes with the assistance of Lady Ulidia. When Eudora, a young scullery maid, spills a bucket of water, Ulidia scolds her, but later Winterhued shows the maid kindness by giving her oranges. The girl, overawed in the princess's chambers, takes the opportunity to secretly snatch a moonstone necklace. This brazen act is quickly overshadowed by a sudden attack by a vast, winged beast, which turns much of Castle Lawhill to flaming rubble. The dragon then takes up residence in the castle's keep. The king seeks a knight to slay the beast, planning to offer Winterhued's hand in marriage as a reward. Meanwhile, an errant knight--who already has a connection to the princess--and his squire roam the lands just below Iron Crag, and they're watched by what may be the last living unicorn. In her debut, Alger evokes dreamy classics, such as Lord Dunsany's 1924 novel, The King of Elfland's Daughter, while blessing her characters with a modern wit that lets them stand beside figures created by Neil Gaiman. Fantasy fans will consistently enjoy the lyrical prose, as in the line, "[The wings] washed at the verges of her mind like twilit waves upon a strand, leaving at their ebb a scum of fear." The dragon, which seems impossible to see clearly due to its ferocity, provides a chaotic backdrop against which secondary players, such as Stench, a young dung-scooper, perform heroic deeds. The unicorn, meanwhile, is used as a subtle metaphor for being lost or being denied one's true path.
An epic fantasy marked by passionate prose and courageous characters.' - KIRKUS REVIEWS