Yes! A fairytale romance, where an ax-wielding damsel saves the map-making prince.
Five Stars for The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones. I own a copy of this book, which I’ll listen to again and again. I highly recommend it.
Seventeen-year-old Aderyn (“Ryn”) is fierce, loyal and ax-wielding. Three qualities needed for a female gravedigger, who hunts the bone houses, or risen skeletons, that haunt the woods. She tries to keep a roof over her younger siblings’ heads while they wait for their widowed father to return.
In the author’s words Ryn is “a half-wild creature that loved a graveyard, the first taste of misty night air, and the heft of a shovel. She knew how things died, and in her darkest moments, she feared she did not know how to live.”
Out hunting a bone house, she cleaves through the dead thing intent on ripping Elias, an apprentice mapmaker, apart.
Elias says he wants to map the route to the long-abandoned copper mines in the mountains, but more than that, he wants to solve the mysteries of his past. A prince found him in the forest when Elias was three years old. Before that Elias remembers nothing. He wants to know where he came from, what happened to his family and why he has a wound that just won’t heal. He offers Ryn a job to guide him through the woods to the mines.
She accepts his offer as the local Lord, tired of waiting for past-due rent from Ryn’s missing father, threatens to throw Ryn and family out. And Ryn wants to go herself, as the mines are where her dad disappeared. She hopes he’s alive, and she can rescue him.
Then, the bone houses, who’ve previously stayed in the woods, attack. They rampage through Ryn’s graveyard and the village. Now, there’s an urgency to Ryn accompanying Elias. As well as finding her father, she needs to stop the dead from rising.
If you like dark fairy tales with zombies– that also carry a strong message about families and love, this sweet romance might be for you.