Reviewed by Caitlin Lyle Farley for Readers' Favorite
All the other children at Bastilly’s School for the Ungifted, Average, and Unchosen tease Saskia and call her a freak. After a particularly terrible day, in which her class is more shocked than entertained by her fairy tale presentation, Saskia runs home through the Spooky Woods and encounters a skeleton sitting on a fallen tree. Skeletons can’t talk, even those that have a bird in their chest and flowers in their eyes, but they are excellent listeners. Saskia tells the Skeleton the fairy tale about her family: the Princess and her bouts of illness, Jack, and Franz the cat who became a human. The Skeleton becomes Saskia’s first friend, a loyal companion who stays at her side through all the terrible aftermath of the prim and proper people’s reaction to her fairy tale.
Saskia’s Skeleton is a quirky and imaginative story with great depth and poignancy. Lily Markova takes the reader on a quest to explore tragic circumstances, emotional healing, and the blurred boundaries of sanity. There is very little about this book that can be taken at face value as Saskia’s imagination distorts and enriches everything around her. An underlying metaphor gradually emerges through Saskia’s fairy tale and this permits the reader to glimpse a far more harrowing truth at the heart of the young girl’s family. It also provides insight into Saskia’s personality. Certain elements of the conclusion are sad, but the ending is satisfying for the most part. Lily Markova has spun a remarkable tale about an important issue with elegance and skill. Both adults and children will enjoy Saskia’s Skeleton.