The Fetching of Spring is a joyful, heartbreaking, action packed, contemplative, funny, whimsical, uplifting, and deeply serious fairy tale for grown ups by an author who has delighted children for years.
Much of the charm of this tale lies in the comedic tension between its fleet-footed telling, and the perilous quest of its stumbling hero. Its joy, on the other hand, is found in the author’s clear-eyed assessment of our modern condition and the demands it places on us for survival as human beings. That he couches all this so beautifully within the conventions of a classic fairy tale is nothing less than sublime.
Our story opens in a kingdom where there is just the right amount of corruption to render all those not wielding ill-gotten power either grouchy or very sleepy. Add to this the fact that the Golden Bird, the heart of the kingdom and source of its joy and prosperity, has been stolen (or so the king says) and our adventure begins. In order to appease his subjects, the king declares that someone must find and bring back the Golden Bird. He chooses the sleepiest person for the task, Tik-Tak, the baker’s son, equips him with a steed no one else wants, gives him a dull and rusty sword, and sends him off to do the good deed.
What follows is a masterful quest story that takes our hero (and thereby ourselves) from a cozy place by the fire and places him, often dazed and misguided, on the path to rescue the Golden Bird. Tik-Tak’s travels take him into two neighboring kingdoms, once joyous but now bereft, through the land of Erce-Ma (you have to meet her to understand), and out into the desert where he happens upon a much better steed. From there his path leads downward, and he bumbles his way into the realms of un-humanness that, simply put, are nearly unbearable to witness (though we all see them everyday). But from there Tik-Tak meets with success by finding the Golden Bird and begins the perilous climb upward. Finally, he restores all that was lost in the three upper kingdoms and finds both purpose and true happiness for himself.
The Fetching of Spring is wonderful reading of the very best sort: a story strong and true, told with joy and wonder, clarity and hope. This one is not to be missed.