Ursula Vernon, also known as Ursulav, has been the purveyor of the weirdly beautiful, and the beautifully weird, for over a decade now. Her artwork is impossible to categorize; if you were to start combining random words out of the dictionary you’d have a good chance of accidentally describing something she’s painted. Anthropomorphic saints? Plenty to choose from. Swamp landscape teacup? Got a beautiful one of those. Feral strawberry, cantaloupe sandals, and a biting pear? Yep, yes, and you’ve probably already seen that last one.
In 2008 Vernon started writing and illustrating her own children’s books, and she recently released several short stories written under the pen name T. Kingfisher. This couldn’t have been better news, because as much as I adore her art, what really drew me to her work were the descriptions she included with the art. They’re such a wonderful combination of the bizarre and the totally mundane. The short descriptions often led to longer slice-of-life stories, my three favorites being The Saints of San Axolotl, The Golem Girl, and the incomparable House of Red Fireflies. In Kingfisher’s most recent release she follows the same format she started with her short story collection Toad Words, taking familiar elements from fairy tales and turning them ever so slightly off kilter.
More than a children’s story, not quite an adaptation, The Seventh Bride tells the tale of a hapless miller’s daughter, dragged into a world of imprisoned brides and stolen gifts. It’s too much to ask of anyone, particularly someone who can’t even keep the big swan at the millpond from stealing her lunch every blessed day. But she’s got a hedgehog, so at least there’s that much going for her…