Riva, scarred in a terrible fire, fears she will never heal.
Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, when born a daughter.
And Sinne, the spoiled youngest girl, yearns for romance.
All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold – a last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons. But change comes on the day ash falls from the sky, bringing Myrddhin, meddler and magician, and Tristan, a warrior whose secrets will tear the siblings apart. Riva, Keyne and Sinne must take fate into their own hands, or risk being tangled in a story they could never have imagined; one of treachery, love and ultimately, murder. It’s a story that will shape the destiny of Britain.
This was unexpectedly a hard read for me, I don’t mean in that it wasn’t a good one, I mean that I didn’t expect to be so distraught!
I have apparently picked super emotionally draining books to read this year and I’ve loved them. This one is no exception.
I was however completely surprised by how dark this was. I expected something gritty to be sure, three siblings that are living in an era of transition from wild lands and magic to the stifling confines of Christianity. A land that echoes in the very hearts of the siblings.
Three sisters. Or at least that’s what they are presented as but Keyne is no daughter, and the journey Keyne has is really the main connecting one of him and his sisters.
Keyne’s story is probably also the most interesting. I do adore Riva and Sinne’s stories as well, and though the siblings seem close, this is a story of transitions and not just of the land or religion but the siblings as well.
Riva is the dutiful one, Keyne the one that doesn’t ‘fit in,’ and Sinne is the young carefree one. The three are all so different but I loved seeing how they all drastically changed from beginning to end.
Fate is not always kind though, and this story showed the struggles each sibling dealt with. There was so much pain and it made it a heavy read.
Holland’s style isn’t easy to read but that’s because she makes you feel the seriousness of what’s happening, it’s this sort of edge of your seat dread and hope that just simultaneously grow together as the story reaches a slow and fitting conclusion. That’s exactly what the ending is, fitting.
Pacing is slow, the passage of time is marked by Pagan festivals and in between the siblings journeys we see the transformation of everything around them. The setting completely pulled me in and there were many times that I found myself surprised to put down the book and realize I was here in 2021 and not back with them in 535 AD.
There are familiar elements and tropes, but there’s also a lot of heart and again Keyne’s story was the one that tied it all together for me.
4/5 cups of coffee for this read. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for my honest opinion. (I also read my Goldsboro edition of it which is stunning.)