To Crack a Soldier

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To Crack a Soldier: A Retelling of The Nutcracker by Sarah Beran (Shattered Tales book 9)

Alexander Monde is a soldier recovering from injuries sustained in battle. The war might be over, but everything he cares about has been taken from him. But everything changes the night of the winter festival when he’s given a beautiful ballerina doll.

Midnight arrives and the ballerina comes to life, battling the Mouse King. The mirror gateway is broken and Alex finds himself trapped in the land of Faerie with no way back. And the Mouse King’s curse is slowly turning him into wood.

Can Alex break the wooden shell around his heart to let in life and light or is he doomed to remain a wooden soldier forever?

“…he was like a moth drawn to the flame of her smile. It lit up and warmed parts of his heart that had been cold and dark for far too long.”

I loved these two! The epitome of the grumpy-sunshine trope, Alex slowly discovers the inner strength Celesta needs to not let other people wear her down. The grace and kindness she shows others is a result of the way she’s been treated, not in spite of.

This was such a beautiful story, and I loved how Beran wove in elements from the ballet, especially the candy. Music is a form of magic in real life and this is emphasized in Faerie.

As with all Beran’s books, this was full of puns, bringing laughter to moments that might otherwise have been heavy.

5 Roses
No swears
A couple of sweet kisses.
A few minor injuries; memories of war.

(Thank you to the author for the ARC of this book. This is my honest review.)