This is a small excerpt from a classic-style fairy tale I wrote about a year ago. Waiting (probably unnecessarily, since it feels quite finished) to submit it for consideration in picture book format. I'd be grateful for any impressions you might have. (You don't really get an idea of the plot from this excerpt, since it's mostly flashback or backstory, but I don't want to put the whole thing on the web at this point.)
Now the dark wood of Broceliande was a fearsome place. In the wood there was a castle, and in the castle an old sorceress who had long lived all alone with her withered heart for company. It was not always so, for long ago she had a noble lord for her husband, and they had a daughter who was all the world to her father. The noble lord traveled far at his king?s bidding, and while he journeyed in distant lands, the woman kept their daughter in a high tower of the castle. The girl wept and pleaded, for she had many suitors, and she longed to dance and be merry with them. But the woman cursed the suitors so that they became beasts of the dark wood, and many were the hunters? tales of stags that cried out in human speech as they leapt to meet the arrow, or of great salmon that pleaded for their lives as they lay gasping on the riverbank waiting to be gutted. After this the girl lay in her tower fading, so that each day she grew paler and thinner, until at last she was nothing but a sighing mist that blew away on a cold night of wind. When her father returned, he flew into a rage at his wife. But she turned her back on him, and soon he fell from raging to weeping, and he left her there alone with her back still turned.
To this castle Guillemot now came, and she knocked at the great oaken doors. At first the pitiless old woman had no mind to take her in, but then she thought of work that had long been unattended to in the castle, so she allowed the shivering girl to come inside. The sorceress gave her nothing to eat, but showed her a tiny chamber in a corner tower, with a hard, narrow bed, and told her that her duties would begin in the morning.
Guillemot was tired and cold, but she could not yet sleep. She crept out of the tower chamber and down a long passage. There were many doors along the passage, but they were locked, and the locks were rusted shut. At last she came to a door that still had the key in its lock, and with great effort she turned the key and went in. Inside the shadowy room stood a tall mirror, and Guillemot stepped before it and peered into the glass surface. But the mirror reflected nothing: all she could see was a swirling mist. She wiped the glass with the end of her sleeve, but her image grew no clearer. Sighing, she went back to her narrow bed and slept.