I recently read the most recent book in Leah Cypess’ “Sisters Ever After” series. This clever MG fantasy series upends fairytales by re-centering the story on a previously-unknown sibling of the tale’s original protagonist. The main character of The Piper’s Promise is Clare, the little sister that Cypess invents for the infamous Pied Piper, who she names Tom.
The Pied Piper fairytale runs something like this: The Pied Piper draws all the rats from Hamelin with his magic flute, and then, when the town withholds the promised payment, draws all of Hamelin’s children away, never to be seen again. The classic tale invites questions–where did the Piper get the flute? And what did he do with all those children? Cypess delights in unfolding her answers to these questions slowly, drawing us both into the time-slipped Faerie Realms and into layers of backstory and intrigue.
Readers who relish the factions and intrigue of Tui T. Sutherland’s popular Wings of Fire series will find much to enjoy in Cypess’s underground faerie realm, where the lean cast of fae characters nonetheless manages to run the gamut of shifting allegiances, high stakes, and betrayal. The focus, however, is on the bond between Tom and Clare, as Clare moves from a young girl reliant on her brother to a courageous heroine who must choose between her Fae upbringing and her humanity. Clare’s steadfast belief in her brother’s essential humanity propels her to unravel the truth behind his seemingly cruel actions.
I found this to be an imaginative retelling of the Pied Piper tale that wraps the essence of sibling love in faerie magic, with a side of nearly-grown-up politics and intrigue. Well worth the read for fantasy readers aged 9-12, especially fans of anything faerie; like the others in the series, it may especially appeal to little sisters.
The next book in the “Sisters Ever After” series, The Last Rose, will be out in early December.