A clever and exquisitely written story with characters that will hook you.
In the sixth century, a time when Britain is torn between the old ways and the growing influence of the Christian church, three sisters must find their place in a changing world. Their kingdom has turned its back on the magic that once protected it, and now their people stand vulnerable to the attack of the advancing Saxon army.
What starts as a slow-burn quickly becomes a riveting plot bursting with all the things that lovers of YA fantasy typically crave: secrets, war, betrayal, love, loss, and a tonne of family drama. The romance element captures the interest of the reader without stealing away the focus of the plot.
This is a character-driven story that sees all three main characters evolve in exciting and unpredictable ways. The bond between them changes too, reflecting the realistic nature of family relationships.
The characters feel like real people rather than caricatures. Riva, Keyne, and Sinne have distinctly different voices so the reader never has to second-guess whose chapter they’re reading. That said, it sometimes feels like
It’s refreshing to see a story set so far back in history explore issues that are significant and relevant today, including gender identity. The book includes characters who are transgender and
Regarding the prose itself, there are a few words that come to mind. Poetic? Lyrical? Magical? Any of the above would be an understatement. The language has been exquisitely crafted and edited to perfection, resulting in powerful writing that matches the fantastical setting.
Although this is fantasy, it’s obvious that author Lucy Holland has extensively researched sixth-century Britain. The intricate details make the reader feel like they’re immersed in the world with the three sisters, and the consistency make it easy to forget that many elements did come from Holland’s imagination. The unique way that magic works in this world, as a “pattern” that’s connected to the land, brings new life to an idea that’s been done to death in fantasy.
Reviewed by Vanessa Elle
Distributed By: Pan Macmillan Australia
Released: 27 April 2021