Author: Nancy Werlin
Pages: 373
Pub: Penguin (Speak); 2008
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

The Short of It

Curse continues unless impossible tasks completed.

The Long of It

Oddly, Lucy finds herself in a very similar predicament as her estranged mom: pregnant at seventeen.   Lucy might have talked to her mom about this, except she’s fairly crazy and wonders on the streets off and on.  Instead, she takes comfort from her awesome adoptive parents and “the boy next door” who she’s known for a lifetime.  She will have this baby.  She is determined to get through it.

But then something extraordinary comes up. She uncovers a curse that affects all of the Scarborough women.  A curse brought on because an Elfin Knight was spurned generations back. A curse that will cause all of the Scarborough women to go insane. In order to break the curse, Lucy must complete three impossible tasks:

Make a shirt without any seam or needlework
Find an acre of land between salt water and the sea strand
Plow it with just a goat’s hor and sow it all over with one grain of corn

If she doesn’t break the curse, then her unborn daughter will be left vulnerable to the Elfin Knight.

The Thoughts about It

*twiddling fingers all Homer Simpson’s boss-like* Sounds enchanting doesn’t it?  ESPECIALLY because the author got the idea from Scarborough Fair, the song.  Uhhh, who out there doesn’t like some Simon and Garfunkle?  Which, ultimately, is exactly why I picked up this book.  You have to admit, the idea behind it is quite clever, eh?

Soooo, it saddens me very much to have to admit that I wasn’t fond of the book at all.  Man, I leapt for joy when I found this at Borders.  I couldn’t wait to figure out how the author would tackle all three tasks.  And although, how she did it DID prove to be rather clever, the execution of the plot left me feeling bland and stale like.

In fact, while I was contemplating a way of explaining exactly how I felt about this lil’ ole’ book, I continued to have the image of those felt boards that are often used in kindergarten classes.  You know the ones, right? They’re usually black and while the teacher is telling a fairy tale or whatever story, (s)he presses the felt cut-outs on the board for imagery?  Yeah, it felt like those felt images minus an enthusiastic teacher narrating it.

What is wrong with me?  I heard about this book from a review that made it aaammmaaazing. I totally wanted to be charmed and swept away.  It’s been too long since I’ve read a contemporary fairy tale that can do that for me.  This was supposed to be The One.

*shrug* On the plus side, it made me quite intrigued with the Elfin Knight tale and other versions of Scarborough Fair. 

And for those of you who have not HEARD Scarborough Fields (blaspheme!) here’s the video.  Enjoy. 


  1. I liked this one okay, though I thought the way the tasks were completed were a bit too literal. I was expecting fairy tale logic, some quirky wordplay to get her out of actually doing the tasks, or something like that. Now, I barely remember the book.

  2. Aw, this was the first Simon & Garfunkel song I ever heard in my life. Or at least in my memory. However, the song now stuck in my head is "Impossible" from the Rogers & Hammerstein Cinderella. It's catchy as hell.


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