Leigh Bardugo's Grisha folk tales are amazing. Little Knife lived up to all my expectations. Like The Witch of Duva and The Too-Clever Fox, there was more to the story than what first appeared on the surface. Little Knife is the story of a ghost town, Velisyana. There once was a girl, Yeva Luchova, and she was so beautiful that the mid-wife, various nurse-maids, an artist, etc., tried to steal her. Duels were fought for her, but after the second death they were stopped. The Duke, her father, decides to hide her away for the protection of the people. Her response is great, '"Papa,” Yeva said to the Duke. “Why must I be the one to hide?”' Seriously. It's not her fault, the people need to learn some self-control.
It's described as if it was magic to look upon her face. When a rich man suggests Yeva marry his son, after seeing her for himself, starts fighting with his son for her. Then the colonel, who comes to break up the fight, sees her too for the first time, and starts fighting. After she leaves, and they can no longer see her face, it is as though a spell is broken. The colonel then suggests that the Duke end all the madness and marry off his daughter. He puts forth three tasks and the winner gets her. Again, Yeva has a great response, “Papa, forgive me, but what way is this to choose a husband?" So true, right? She says it essentially three times, after he sets forth each task. Her father's response is basically, you want the Prince to win, so you can be rich, right? I'm pretty sure it doesn't matter to her if she is rich.
I love the end. I loved the river. Little Knife is what the river is called by a poor man vying for Yeva's hand. Little Knife and Yeva are the real focuses of the story. Yeva is punished for the actions of other, Little Knife is used and not respected. I wish we could know her true name. I wonder how this story will be mentioned/used in Ruin and Rising. Is Alina Yeva? Is the firebird Little Knife? Or will they just be passing through a deserted town and told to stay close to the group, remembering the legend of Velisyana? I'm so excited for more Leigh Bardugo and I feel like Little Knife is a story that's going to stay with me for a long time.