Audiobook Junkie, Sporadic book blogger, occasional master chef, soccer mom, wearer of pajamas, teller of tales, cool aunt, beloved wife, and loyal friend.
The Tree Shepherd's Daughter is set at a renaissance fair in Colorado where the MC Keelie Heartwood finds herself being shipped to live with her father after her mother's unexpected death. Shortly after arriving at the Fair, Keelie, resentful of what she believed was her father's neglect over the past 15 years of her life, finds herself drawn to the people, the environment, and even, grudgingly, her father and his psycho cat Knot. She soon finds out that the folk at the Renn Fair are more than what they appear to be and so is she. She has some weird affinity to wood and some strange abilities as well. Keelie struggles with accepting who and what she is while at the same time dealing with a murderous red-capped gnome that seems to be cause no end of havoc. She wonders if she will be willing or able to give up the world of malls and makeup for this strange new life among trees and people who seem to forget what century it is.
I can't stress enough how much I loved the atmosphere of this book. The descriptions of the setting, the merchants and their wares, the trees, the people, and the creatures both magical and mundane at the renaissance fair took up a large part of the book but I wasn't bored by it at all. Those descriptions are what drew me into the story and made me actually want to be there, to live among all of those eccentric people, to watch the Muck and Mire show with Tarl, to munch on Fairy Winkberry muffins at Mrs. Butters shop, and to walk among the trees hoping to catch a glimpse of a fairy, sylph, or sprite.
Where this book fell short was in the plot. The maniacal little red-cap guy that was causing all the chaos seemed to be doing so for no apparent reason and the whole thing was disconnected and kind of silly. I still have no idea what happened to him or if the issues are resolved but some things happened with a necklace and some lightning and something about a book and singed eyebrows. There were some other shady characters introduced that pop up in the story intermittently but their place in the story was kind of mysterious as well.
Ultimately the plot was so disjointed and confusing that I'm not really sure where the author was trying to go with it. I think I would have liked the story better if it would have just been about Keelie coming to grips with her mother's death and reconnecting with her father in this magical setting. The plot seemed to take away from the parts of the story that I enjoyed. I hate when a story goes in a direction other than where I want it to take me. I will definitely continue with this series though because I thoroughly enjoyed the setting and most of the characters, especially Knot the wicked cat and Ariel, the half blind hawk. I'm hoping the rest of the series will improve and I'll be able to continue enjoying this wonderful cast of characters.