I’ve never read Alice Hoffman before. I picked up her YA novella Green Angel lured by the physical beauty of the book. My library owns a small hardcover copy that is just so pretty.
I was not disappointed by her writing. Hoffman’s prose is lyrical, reminding me at first of Robin Mckinley’s Chalice, later of Franscesca Lia Block with less sex and drugs.
Green Angel is a fairytale about a girl named Green who loses her entire family to a fire that burned the city they visited without her. Green struggles with her grief, isolating herself, renaming herself “Ash,” and tattooing every inch of her skin. Eventually, she begins to heal by healing others, discovering love and her own magic. Green Angel explores the power of naming, the unlikely friendships that form after tragedy, and how grief shapes identity.
I liked the sequel, Green Witch, better than Green Angel, though I would recommend reading both. Green Witch continues the fairytale. Green lives in a cottage with a magical garden that she wills to prosper. She also gathers stories from the villagers, writing them down on special paper that she creates to suit each story. (To the baker’s story she adds cinammon, to another she adds ashes and salt).
One day, Green discovers the true identity of the Finder, a tinker that provides the villagers with mechanisms. He asks her to find his sister, and Green decides to look for her and the boy that she loved and lost.
For guidance, she seeks out The Enchanted, women labeled witches by the villagers. The novella is divided into sections about each of these witches: The Sky Witch, The Rose Witch and The River Witch. Green records their sad stories, and they reward her with items to help her on her quest.
I think that you have to love fairytales to enjoy Green Angel and Green Witch. I do. I’ve read a few reviews by readers that didn’t care for some of the descriptions. Some people don’t want to read about transforming ink or magical stones. For a fairytale lover, however, these books were a find.
A quote I’ll keep: “When you are the sole survivor of anything, do you have the right to be alive? Is the future a betrayal of everyone you ever loved and lost, or is it a way to praise them” (pgs. 88-89).
An aside: The dark force in this book is called “The Horde.” I couldn’t help but think of She-ra! I loved that show. Yeah, I’m a product of the 80s.