Irene, a painter with a troubled past who drinks to ease her pain and squanders her talent, moves to the village of Zeal to begin again. One day, while gazing into a painting she is working on, she feels a peculiar sensation--a strong sense of the reality of the scene on the canvas. Soon she finds herself physically drawn into the world of her painting. Once there, she meets Stagman and Mira, and the adventure begins.
Irene learns that evil has overtaken the land of the painting. The enemy of the land’s good prince has stolen and imprisoned the prince’s stallion, and as long as the stallion remains imprisoned, the land itself remains in the clutches of evil.
Irene is informed by Stagman and Mira that only she can free the land from evil. Leaving Mira behind, Stagman and Irene begin a quest to find the stallion. They meet helpers along the way, some human and some not, as well as malevolent creatures bent on stopping the two from completing their task--including the ingeniously named wolf-like “ersatz.”
Lee is a terrific storyteller, weaving excitement and action with a sense of darkness and foreboding. Her story is both cozy--in the sense that a fairy tale is cozy--and fast-paced, and its Christian allegorical elements, while there, are not heavy-handed.
I should warn you: The epilogue will bring a tear to your eye. I hope Lee returns to Stagman and his world. This is a story that should be continued.