This is a fantasy that starts on a decidedly down note - young Lyra is stumbling through the medieval woods, alone, badly wounded, and with nothing but her clothes and her family's honor-knife. She's fleeing from the slaughter of her family at the hand of bandits, who were aided by her half-brother, but Lyra is pitifully unequipped for flight, since she's spent most of her life reading and not learning how to survive in the woods. Fortunately for her, she crosses paths with one of the legendary dog soldiers (as in, anthropomorphic dog warrior), who takes her under his wing and eventually introduces her to a pair of lesbian elf scouts (one with a pretty nasty death wish) and a half-elven sorceror's son who's the older scout's bastard nephew. That's just the beginning of an interesting cast of characters - none of whom will remind you of anyone from Digger, Vernon's long-running webcomic about an itinerant female miner who keeps getting involved in heroic situations and dealing with gods despite her best intentions.
To say the least, this is not your normal elf and dwarf crap. None of the characters are even close to being stereotypes, there are surprising plot twists, and the damn thing is TOO SHORT!!!! Also, for some reason another artist did the interior b&w illos, which are frankly not up to the quality of Vernon's own work.
Go order the book here.
Go view her art, including the now-legendary , here.
Go gaze on The Hotness That Is Ursula Vernon.
Yeah. All that, plus serious two-fisted artistic talent. Day-yum.