Buchanan (The Day the Falls Stood Still) captures in this immersive, supernatural latest the hardships of village life in first-century Britain. Hobble, 13, lives with her healer mother, Devout, and blacksmith father, Smith, in the remote hamlet of Black Lake. Hobble, named for her lame leg and prone to unusual visions, foresees the arrival of the Romans to their settlement. Her prediction draws the attention of Fox, a recently arrived, menacing itinerant druid who is fomenting resistance to Roman rule. Fox threatens to revive the village’s “old ways” and sacrifice Hobble to the gods unless she agrees to predict the outcome of his planned rebellion. Buchanan parallels Hobble’s story with Devout’s own 14th year, when Devout was courted both by Smith, who lost all his male relatives in a doomed rebellion that year, and by fellow farm laborer Arc. Devout barely survives a terrible crop failure and consents to be Arc’s wife, only for him to die soon after. In the present, Fox’s demands grow until he pushes the villagers too far. Buchanan’s descriptions of pagan rituals are fully realized and provide a haunting, engaging backdrop for the two teenage protagonists. Fans of thoughtful, inventive historical fiction will enjoy this transporting novel. Agent: Dorian Karchmar, WME. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/17/2020 Release date: 10/06/2020 Genre: Fiction
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