Caitrin is running from the past, yet the future she is running into is even worse. Beset by ghosts and demons both real and imagined, can Caitrin do something useful with her life, and end up with the man she loves?
From the first couple of words, Marillier suckers the reader in. I found myself wanting to read on just to find out what Caitrin was fleeing from – whether I would be told that or not I waited breathlessly to find out.
The text seems a little stilted in the first couple of pages, but I was positive that it would improve. It’s something after reading the three books of the Sevenwaters trilogy I was sort of expecting to find. It didn’t bother me significantly though, because Caitrin had already pulled me in! I think it was a slightly easier read than those three books, but no less enjoyable
There are some early beautiful descriptions of the garden. Marillier has done a great job of landscaping the area for her reader while also striking a balance with history and the characters. I can imagine that a lot of research into Irish history went into this book, and it’s been utterly worth it.
There are two hooks in the reader – the material Caitrin is researching (and that she is interested in) and also what is happening in the present. It’s wonderful to see the character development of all the living characters, and also of some of the Host. Marillier deals nicely with rape, murder and torture – the reader isn’t overwhelmed. The reader can face fears with Caitrin as she blossoms back into the independant woman she should be.
The use of mirrors providing further insight into the past is fascinating. The change in perspective from Caitrin to Nechtan really works well, and after an initial stumble, I found myself accepting the mirror premise. It hasn’t been overused in the text, and that’s what I think makes it work.
I read parts of the book aloud, and found that a couple of sentences in the passages I was reading were too long! I also struggled with the legitimate Irish names, which defied my attempts at pronunciation. However, my audience of 1 didn’t care, and the text flowed smoothly and had a lovely rhythm about it.
This is a brilliant novel, just what I was hoping to read after the poor quality of ‘Wit’ch Fire’. It had me reading past my bedtime because I had already spent the whole day reading it! I’d recommend this book for teenagers and adults. There is some very brief sexual content, but it’s not enough to make the book unsuitable for younger readers.