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The Brightest Thing

Ruth Daniell

In her first full-length collection, award-winning poet Ruth Daniell offers work that is both earnest and hopeful, even in the face of trauma. In formally exquisite and lyrical poems, The Brightest Thing tells the story of a young woman who is raped by her first boyfriend and her struggle afterwards to navigate her fairy-tale expectations of romantic love. This contemporary story of hurt and healing is paired with poems that give voice to silenced princesses from fairy tales—including Rapunzel, Donkeyskin, The Little Mermaid’s sister and the princess who feels the pea beneath two hundred mattresses. At turns heartbreaking and joyful, with an unabashed eye for beauty and an unapologetic hope for love, Daniell questions the pursuit of “happily ever after,” and probes deep into darkness while looking for the light.

“Straight-to-the-heart imagery, fairy tale transformed into first-person confession, a willingness to risk sentimentality while clearly understanding its limits: these are what I love best about Ruth Daniell’s The Brightest Thing.”
—Sue Sinclair, author of Heaven’s Thieves

The Brightest Thing is a garden of story, blossoming with hardship, ache, love and light—“Everywhere roses slow and rich as honey or amber or blood.” Each poem glistens with a kind of hopeful magic, the kind of magic that kindles with desire and bravery, a glistening readers will want to share in and pass along like the beloved fairy tales we grew up with and still hold dear.”
—Mallory Tater, author of This Will Be Good