Damosel

By Stephanie Spinner

Alfred A. Knopf

WATER SPIRIT DAMOSEL, the Lady of the Lake, glides through Arthurian legend like a glamorous wraith, shimmering and shifting between the worlds of fairies and humans. Her knowledge is vast (magic, metal, men’s hearts) and leads to her greatest honor—and worst mistake. Damosel makes a promise to the wizard Merlin to protect young King Arthur, and then dares to break it—with devastating results. All the while, 17-year-old Twixt—a dwarf in a world where difference can be deadly—finds himself freed from his cruel masters and moving closer to the one place he never expected to see: King Arthur’s court at Camelot.

Stephanie Spinner intertwines the two narratives of Damosel and Twixt to draw us straight into a richly imagined land of enchantment.

An Interview with Stephanie Spinner by Melissa Wiley on Here in the Bonny Glen.


“In this lovely tale, drawn from Arthurian lore, Merlin commissions Damosel, the Lady of the Lake, to craft a wondrous sword for Arthur, the future king. Intertwined with Damosel’s tale is the story of Twixt, an insightful, clever dwarf, who is rescued from an abusive situation by Tor, an Arthurian knight on his way to Camelot. Twixt becomes a keen observer of court gossip, while Damosel protects Arthur with her powers of enchantment and ability to envision happenings from afar. Together, Damosel and Twixt tell a Camelot saga with all its political intrigue, battles, and romance. The magic is exciting and palpable: ‘I had caused Excalibur to rise out of the water . . . A woman’s pearly white hand held the sword aloft so that it shone in the morning sun.’ Spinner’s elegant language, strong characterizations, energetic dialogue, and lively plot combine in a memorable, accessible novel.”  Booklist


“Fans of Arthurian legends will enjoy this new take on these familiar tales.”  School Library Journal


“King Arthur’s rise to power is told through the alternating narratives of Damosel, a Lady of the Lake, and Twixt, a sagacious and world-weary dwarf, “in a world where differences can be deadly.” As the two describe their complex and full lives (marked by both crushing tragedy and moments of luxuriously described bliss), an intriguing version of Arthur’s story also emerges, set in the fifth century and focusing as much on Lancelot, Guinevere, and Merlin, as on the larger-than-life king himself. The author ably balances the dramatically different tones of her two narrators, creating a fluid whole…Arthurian buffs, who will likely devour the endnote that describes the sources and inspiration for this interpretation, will also find this haunting tale of the Lady of the Lake, creator of Arthur’s most important artifact, to be an unusual and worthy new take on the era.”  Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books