What a beautiful book - one of the best I've ever read.
Where to start ... Juliet Marillier is a wonderful writer. The way she evokes the time and place of the novel is nothing short of spectacular. As this is a historical fantasy romance you don't really know exactly when the story is set but judging from her descriptions of the various cultures and politics of the time I'd say late Anglo-Saxon times, possibly just before the Norman Conquest. It's set in Ireland and Northern England - a world that the author brings to life beautifully.
Sorcha is a strong female lead - the seventh child of an Irish family with six protective elder brothers. First person narration can be tricky to get right but Marillier takes us on a long journey with Sorcha and I never tired of her voice. Her courage, even at times of horror and pain, had me in tears a few times during the book.
Red is possibly my favorite hero of all time. The author takes great care in bringing him to life - and it's difficult not to fall in love with him. He's sexy, strong and kind - what's not to love! If Sorcha has one fault is that she is 'too strong' - and risks isolating herself with her need to prove she can deal with everything on her own. However Red understands this about her. His flaw is pride - he doesn't find it easy to express his deepest feelings, and this almost ruins his own chance at happiness as a result.
I can't believe I've only just discovered Juliet Mariller now - I'm going to enjoy diving into her other works. I also discovered that we're from the same city in New Zealand and studied at the same university!
I can't recommend this book highly enough. If you love historical fiction with a bit of fantasy thrown in - and a powerful love story that will have you reaching for the tissues - don't miss this one.
Buy a copy on Amazon.