We are introduced to a world where magic is part of everyday life and you have to hire fairies to do everything from demagicking your kettle to making good weather for crops. The King and Queen of this world have longed for a child for many years and so when the queen suddenly discovers she is carrying a child, she keeps her pregnancy a secret with the help of her trusted fairy advisor Sigil, until she gave birth to a baby girl.
Part one: The country rejoices at the news, as the birth of a princess who will inherit the throne is a rare occurrence and especially lucky. The princess' name day is to be a grand celebration, on a scale of which the country hasn't seen in centuries and the Queen sends invitations to each town and village, that one person chosen by lot, can come to the name day. She also invites twenty one good fairies to be god mothers, setting in train a series of events which will have dramatic repercussions.
Young Katriona, niece of the village's resident fairy is chosen by lot on her village to go to the name day. Katriona hasn't left home since her parents died but she has a brave heart and she sets off on the adventure of her life. Her journey to the capital city is long and hard.
The morning of the princess' name day dawns and Katriona is one of the first through the palace's gates. She is quickly overwhelmed by the crowds but is rescued by a mysterious saber bearing stranger, who gifts her with the temporary loan of a powerful protection charm. After many long speeches, the fairy godmothers give their gifts to the little princess, each more useless then the next to the horror of Katriona. Suddenly the wicked witch Pernicia appears and curses the princess that on her twenty first birthday, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a sleep from which she shall never wake. In the midst of the chaos of Pernicia's wake, Katriona finds herself holding the baby princess and giving her the gift of talking to animals. The fairy Sigil entrusts the child to Katriona to take her home, where she might be safe from the curse.
It's a long dangerous journey home for a young girl carrying a newborn but she is helped along the way by many animals who offer their milk for the princess and over the months, the princess grows strong. Katriona arrives home safely and her aunt takes the princess in as her own child, whom they call Rosie.
Part Two: Although the King and Queen search for the princess for many years, no one suspects that the young tomboy Rosie who talks to animals is actually their princess. Rosie has a happy childhood and to everyone's surprise, she befriends the reclusive smith Narl.
The Queen has two baby boys in the meantime who grew up strong but no one forgets the princess or her fate. All sharp spindles are banned in the hopes of stopping the curse. Katriona's childhood sweetheart Barder finally asks Katriona to marry him. Katriona forms a friendship with a girl called Peony and they quickly become inseparable.
Part Three:More years pass and Katriona now has children of her own and Rosie is working at the forge with Narl and spending a lot of time at Woodwold the great house in the area helping their animals. Narl takes on a new assistant called Roland, who stricken by the fate of the princess, has vowed to marry her. However he falls in love with Peony who returns his love but bound by his oath and so they cannot marry. Just before Rosie's twenty first birthday, the Saber Bearer turns up to the horror of everyone and Rosie discovers who she really is.
Part Four: It is decided that Rosie and Peony should swap places to confuse the curse. They travel to Woodwold to await the arrival of the King and Queen and their court for the princess' twenty first birthday. Pernicia arrives and Peony saves Rosie by pricking her finger first.
Part Five: The whole palace falls into into a enchanted sleep but Narl manages to wakes Rosie and together with the help of many animals, they defeat the Pernicia, the curse is broken and all is well: as Peony who remains the official princess, can now marry Rowland, while Rosie can marry Narl, whom she always loved.
This is a truly wonderful inspiring novel and its tale of a remarkable friendship between two young girls, will linger long in the mind after reading it. In these dark times, a novel such as this which enchants and delights is just what what we need.