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Slippers and Songs (Brodyr Alarch #1) by Morgan Sheppard

@MorganSheppardAuthor @debbiereadsbooks

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@MorganJSheppard @debbiereadsbook

In the realm of Holmfirth, far from Melthkior, Princess Tesni finds herself ensnared in a curse that compels her to dance tirelessly through the night. She must navigate a delicate balance between her royal responsibilities and the ceaseless rhythm of her relentless dance. Tesni yearns to be perceived as more than a coveted reward to be claimed for breaking the enchantment.

Summoned by Tesni’s father, Prince Brenin finds himself irresistibly drawn to Tesni’s captivating personality and quiet strength, by the genuine beauty that emanates from her. In the velvety embrace of deepest night, Brenin becomes Tesni’s silent guardian, accompanying her to the realm of the Otherworld. There, he answers riddles posed by the mysterious Taliesin.

Will Brenin uncover the secrets that tether Tesni to her unending dance, winning not only her freedom but also her heart? Will the silent whispers of their burgeoning affection be allowed to grow? Or will Tesni remain forever entwined in the dance of the Otherworld that holds her captive?


Slippers and Songs is a Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale retelling and the first book in the Brodyr Alarch series, where Brothers Grimm stories entwine with the fascinating mythology of the Welsh Gods.

With the sun and wind playing amongst the leaves, an occasional woodpecker, and the sounds of a stream nearby, Brenin relaxed into his ride. He thought about what could be the issue at the castle, but until he had more information, it was difficult to have any firm guesses.

He stopped Cadell and swung his leg over the stallion when he saw a crumpled form lying at the side of the road. He crouched down, pulling the hood of the deep blue cloak back from the wizened features. Straggly white hair was stuck to a too-thin face that looked grey with exhaustion.

Standing up, he quickly returned to Cadell, who was grazing nearby, and pulled his water flask out from his saddlebags. Working the stopper loose, he lifted the old woman and gently tipped the water to her mouth. Her eyelids fluttered and her mouth opened slightly, before she started gulping the water down. Brenin let her drink her fill, in small amounts so as not to upset her stomach. “Wait here. I’ve got some bread.”

Grabbing it from out the bag, he pressed the food into her hands. “Here you are, Nain, have some of this. It will make you feel better.” Brenin used Nain and hoped she wouldn’t mind, as he didn’t know what else to call her. Back in Melthkior, it was used as a term of respect for the elder folk.

She ate a couple of mouthfuls slowly, savouring the flavours. She pushed the bread back into his hands. “Thank you kindly, my lord. I’m sorry for disturbing you.”

Now he could see she was feeling better, Brenin relaxed slightly. He sat down next to her, without a care for his clothes, and gave her back the bread. “You need this more than I, I think.” He cocked his head as he looked her over. “You’re looking a little better, but I don’t want you here overnight. If I help you, do you think you could get on my horse? I’ll take you to the castle with me.”

“Oh ho,” laughed the old woman, wheezing slightly, as a smile lit up her face. “Me? In a castle? I don’t think so. The king has enough to deal with, without me making a mess.”

“You wouldn’t make a mess,” insisted Brenin. “And I’m sure you deserve a night in the castle, probably more than those who live there.”

She tilted her head as she looked at him and patted his hand gently. “You’re a fine young man, and you will always have my thanks, but I don’t belong there. I have my own castle, just through the woods there.”

Brenin looked at where she was pointing and saw a ramshackle hut, nearly falling apart.

“That has my kitchen, my bed, and a fire for when it’s cold,” she said. “I have everything I need. I just felt a little faint today, that’s all. I’m in tip-top health now.” She struggled to get up, nearly falling over again as she trod on the corner of her cloak.

Brenin jumped to his feet and helped her stand, adjusting the cloak around her scrawny shoulders. “Are you sure I can’t convince you, Nain?”

“I’m positive.” She patted his hand again. “You’re a good ‘un. I’m guessing you’ve had some lessons to learn, for you to be so helpful to an old woman like me.”

Brenin blushed, the colour rising fast to his cheeks. “I wish I could say no, but I’d be lying. You’re right, Nain, but whether or not I had them is neither here nor there. You needed my help, and I was happy to give it.”

She nodded with approval. “Then, in return, if you would just help me to my home, I’ll give you my help.”

Brenin was confused but gave her his arm and they slowly made their way through the trees to the hut he had seen.

“Come in, come in.” She waved him in, smiling broadly and showing off the gaps in her teeth. “Sit yourself down and I’ll only be a minute. I’ll find it soon. I know where it is.”

Brenin sat gingerly on the only stool in the one-roomed hut, afraid it would break beneath his weight. He looked around and saw that although it was run down, it was clean, with everything in its rightful place. He heard the mutterings of the old woman as she rummaged in a box at the bottom of her bed.

“Ha! Here it is.” She held her hand up in triumph, a bolt of cloth clasped tightly, its colours faded and a little ragged at the edges. She shuffled across to him and thrust the material in his hands. “Here you go. That will help you figure out the mystery. Remember to wrap it tight around you.”

Brenin raised his eyebrows as he looked at the moth-eaten blanket in his hands. “Thank you, Nain,” he said politely, not wanting to insult her. He placed the bread and the leather water flask on her table. “Please take these in return. I’ll bring you more tomorrow.”

“Pah!” She waved her hand in front of him. “There’s no need for you to come back. I’ll be fine.” She grabbed the bread and held it close to her body. “I’ll thank you for this though.” She put it on the work counter and turned back to him, putting her hands on her hips. “You’d better be on your way if you don’t want to lose the day.”

“Oh, of course,” said Brenin, stumbling to his feet. He was glad she was feeling better, but something was slightly odd about her. “Are you sure you’ll be okay?”

“Absolutely peachy. Now, be off with you. Just remember what I said though. Wrap it tight. Take care now, Prince Brenin.” She pushed him to the door and waved at him as he stumbled down the path back to Cadell, closing the door behind him.

It was only when he had finished packing his gear back at the inn, tucking the fragile fabric she had given him on the top of his saddlebags, did he recall she had called him Prince Brenin. He stopped what he was doing, staring at the fabric. With a shrug of his shoulders, he carefully closed the flap and left the room.

5 out of 5 (exceptional)

Independent Reviewer for Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

Prince Brenin and his brother are summoned to help solve a mystery, to where Princess Tesni goes at night, and ruins her dancing shoes. She can't remember, and no one has been able to solve the riddle. Given that Brenin and his brothers survived a curse, they might be able to finally let Tesni sleep.

There is a book previous to this, but it's not really necessary to read Sealed with A Curse before this one. It would give you the story of how Brenin and his brothers were cursed, and why one brother still has a swan wing instead of an arm, but not really NEEDED to understand this one.

Brenin is called to help Tesni. (I was reading this as Tensi through the whole book though, so if I slip and type it wrong, I'm sorry!) They kinda clash a bit at first, but they do begin to get on once they start spending time together. There is romance here, but it takes time, and it's CLEAN. And I loved that it was! If you follow my reviews, you'll know I will always say I prefer my books on the spicier side, but here?? Nope, loved that it was clean and no violence.

I loved how I did not see who was responsible for Tesni's plight. Did not see that coming at all! Nor why! So well played there!

It's beautifully written. Full of Welsh myths and gods, and I can't remember their names but those same gods are central to Sealed With a Curse, so maybe you SHOULD read that one before this!

My only niggle, and it really is a niggle. I'm picky like that and it's my review but this won't affect my star rating! The book is told from only Brenin's point of view and I really wanted to know what Tesni was thinking, at key points along the way. When she meets Brenin, when she gets up at night, what was going through her mind, when Brenin solves the riddle, and when Brenin first asks that very important question! I loved her reaction, I kinda expected it, but I didn't expect Brenin to run away! He does come good, with a little help from previously aforementioned Welsh gods whose names I can't say let alone spell!

I'm intrigued by these fairytale retells. They are all Brothers Grimm, but ones I've never heard of! I'm looking forward to reading the next one.

I liked Sealed with a Curse, it was a nice read that I gave 4 stars to. But this one? I LOVED this one! And as such, it can only get:

5 full and shiny stars!

** same worded review will appear elsewhere **

* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book; the comments here are my honest opinion. *

Originally from the United Kingdom, Morgan Sheppard now resides in Germany, although she freely admits to having left part of her heart in Wales.   Whilst a writer mainly in the fantasy genre, Morgan is more than happy to share her love of reading amongst the many different genres out there, and can always be found with a book close by.


As well as reading and writing, Morgan spends her time looking after her family and trying to learn German. Unfortunately, a natural aptitude for languages doesn’t appear to be one of her strong points. However, stubbornness is, so she continues to persevere. So far, Morgan is confident enough to order a beer and a pretzel.


You can also sign up for her newsletter to receive a #FREE copy of Disjointed Lives, a short story about friendship and a toxic relationship -



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