The Robe of Skulls written by Vivian French
This is the first book in the series Tales from the Five Kingdoms. In The Robe of Skulls, Vivian French introduces her kingdoms, and the characters. There is a hint of familiar fairy tales and their motifs within the story. Gracie Gillypot is a cinderella type character - at least until she gets away from her step-father and evil step-sister. The Ancient Crones are reminiscent of witches who control the world and peoples lives in Shakespearean tales and various mythologies.
The Robe of Skulls is a fast paced adventure fueled by sorceress Lady Lamorna's, desire for a new gown of black velvet, studded with skulls. . . Problem is she doesn't have enough gold to pay the Ancient Crones to make her new gown, so she decides to kidnap, blackmail, and use a bit of magic to gather the funds she needs.
Other characters include: a prince, a wicked step sister, a troll, and a couple of talking bats. Princes, and princesses, are turned into frogs, there is a magical path, trickery, and suspense. What a fun read! I can't wait for the next installment in the series.