“Fairy tales and folk tales are for children and childlike people, not because they are little and inconsequential, but because they are as enormous as life itself.” ― Anthony Esolen
Crispian Butcher is a throw-away child who, at fifteen, has learned what it means to be homeless, friendless, hungry, tired with nowhere to rest. He finds work where he can, lucking into a job that provides just enough for survival, making his home within the sheltering branches of a weeping willow tree, a very special tree that is so much more than what it seems, a tree that is bound by magic to absorb a wealth of human grief.
The Weeping Willow is a story of home, the tale of an infant who was cursed upon his mother’s death to become something other, and the tale of a young man who is cast from his home upon his mother’s death for being “other”. It’s a story of strength and perseverance, and a story of a powerful curse broken in the only way curses can be—love. This is a story of courage, not of overcoming fear but of recognizing the very human gifts one has been given—a life, a soul, friendship, compassion—and being brave enough to gather that into the desire to be more than the spell that’s been cast. It’s the story of an unlikely bond between a boy and a tree that has taken on the role of becoming warmth and shelter and refuge—all the things a home should be.
There’s no one who does fairy tales quite the way Hayden Thorne does them, reimagining them into coming-of-age stories that are so much more than the young protagonists slotting neatly into the label of their sexuality. Rather, the stories are an eloquent journey of self-discovery in which the young heroes, unwittingly facing whatever forces work for and against them, fall into a magical sort of recognition that can only happen when love casts its spell, not always easy but always enchanting.
The Weeping Willow charmed its way into my heart in a way only the best fairy tales can, in the hands of an author who loves to weave her own brand of magic into stories of young love.