Although this story is not technically labeled YA, it definitely has appeal for all fantasy readers, young and old. It fully immerses you into its world right from the start. The language is lush and beautiful and poetic.
Time was, in the kingdom of Berengeny, that no one picked their spouses. No one courted—not officially, at any rate—and no one married in a moment’s foolish passion.
We first meet William, the hero, as a child, when we discover that the town’s Wise Woman, who’s charge it is to assign the proper marriage mates (not true love) , cannot find one for William. This continues on until he’s seven, which immediately lets us know William is going to be an exception to many rules. As soon as he discovers his intended is from the North, a place his entire family despises and fears due to the rumors of their magic and their hags, he starts a series of charming correspondence with Tasmin, his future wife.
These letters are spread throughout the story and are enlightening about both their character, and the mystery that would soon unravel. The Chocolatier’s Wife takes on an interesting turn when suddenly William is charged with the murder of the Bishop and Tasmin, startled and desperate, runs to his side and causes gossip to fly. After all, they aren’t married yet… he hadn’t even sent for her.
And so begins the mystery.
I loved everything about this story. It was lighthearted, fun, magical, beautiful, and romantic in all the right ways. Ms. Speer has a real talent for the written word and she makes you forget anything else exists when you read. I would highly recommend this story to teens and adults alike. Grade: A+