Best-selling author Maggie Stiefvater reenters the world of YA literature in the upcoming release of her new novel, Bravely. Immersing readers in the world of Brave several years after the events of the Disney films, Merida of DunBroch discovers her kingdom is marked for ruin at the hand of Feradach, a supernatural being tasked with rooting out rot and stagnation. The interference of the ancient entity known as the Cailleach is DunBroch’s only chance and Merida quickly strikes a bargain with the the two gods. DunBroch and everyone in her family must change within the year, or Feradach will be permitted to demolish the realm. She’s given one year to inspire these changes and embarks on three journeys across Scotland with her family members to do so. Stiefvater brilliantly paces Merida’s story so there is never a dull moment. She whisks readers to the far reaches of Scotland with descriptive, lyrical writing that leaves readers feeling the biting chill of winter and smelling the early spring flowers. Indeed, the mists of Scotland seep from the pages and engulf readers in the year long ventures of Merida’s bargain.
Bravely is a perfect crossroads of historical content, fictional storytelling, and well-known Disney characters to create a unique reading experience. Stiefvater’s exploration of Scottish folklore within the historical timeframe results in a captivating and even educational story. Stiefvater’s love for medieval history shines throughout the story with inclusions of real historical figures, foods, and woes. Readers will also be filled with a sense of wonder and childhood nostalgia as Stiefvater’s writing does justice to the beloved characters of the animated film. Each is fleshed out in personality and motivation with nothing left lacking even for new characters. Merida remains as unprincesslike as ever, having returned to DunBroch after a year of traveling about Scotland getting to know her world better. Everyone will recognize the bow-wielding, whip smart fiery character they love as she dares to defy a god and “fate”. She fights to change her family and the character growth contained within these pages that the residents of DunBroch leave a mark on the reader’s heart long after the book is closed. She effortlessly highlights how easy it is to remain stagnant, and while creature comforts can be good, Bravely reminds us that change is necessary for growth.
Stiefvater world building must be highlighted as well in this review. She brings to life a story of magic, heart, and fantasy for young readers in an utterly enchanting way. While obviously written for the young adult readers age range, I have no doubt that adult Disney fans will love the twists and turns of Bravely. The mystery surrounding the magic at work and powers of both Feradach and the Cailleach lend a dark and eerily element. Bravely is through and through a magical read for Disney lovers, historical fiction lovers, and one who enjoys a grand adventure story full of magic.