It is always so hard to write about Juliet Marillier, because her talent places her in a class by herself. This book has the mystery, the magic and the engrossing worldview of a pagan Europe before Christianity took hold. In her SEVENWATERS chronicles, we explored ninth-century Ireland. In this series, we explore sixth-century Scotland. In both cases, we are witnessing the slow death of an ancient way of being before the Christian onslaught of these windswept lands.
So the story was wonderful, but compared with Ms. Marillier’s SEVENWATERS trilogy, this was weak. The protagonist, Bridei was perfect in every respect that you could possibly think of. His fey companion Tuala was more interesting, in that she was more rebellious. But for a fourteen-year-old girl she was remarkably poised and serene about the various misfortunes that assailed her.
This story had little of the realistic grit about it that made the SEVENWATERS books truly great. By the standards of most of the books out there, this was superlative. By her own standards, this book was not as strong as it could have been. Which was a pity. Three and a half stars.