Patricia A. McKillip creates another fantastic fairy-tale world in ALPHABET OF THORN (4.5). Nepenthe, an orphan girl raised in the court library of a medieval-esque kingdom, has been trained to transcribe forgotten alphabets and ancient manuscripts. Her destiny is entwined with that of a young queen. As the queen ascends the throne of a kingdom filled with unrest, Nepenthe discovers a manuscript written in an alphabet of thorns and becomes obsessed with untangling its mysteries. The connection between the manuscript and the queen reveals itself slowly. McKillip's dreamy, flowing prose entangles readers, much as the thorn alphabet draws Nepenthe in. The altern-ately told stories of Nepenthe, the queen and the story contained in the manuscript cleverly and effortlessly come together. (Feb., 320 pp., $22.95)

Reviewed by: 
Jen Talley Exum