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Wanda's Book Reviews

I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles.  (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).

Against a Darkening Sky / Lauren B. Davis

Against a Darkening Sky - Lauren B. Davis

Wilona, the lone survivor of a plague that has wiped out her people, makes her way across the moors to a new life in the village of Ad Gefrin, where she is apprenticed to Touilt, a revered healer and seeress. She blossoms under Touilt's tutelage and will one day take her place, but as an outsider, she is viewed with suspicion by all except Margawn, a warrior in the lord's hall. When the king proclaims a conversion to the new Christian religion, Ad Gefrin becomes a dangerous place for Wilona and Touilt. Their very lives are at risk as the villagers embrace the new faith and turn against the old ways, even as Wilona's relationship with Margawn grows. Wilona's fate becomes intertwined with that of Egan, a monk sent to Ad Gefrin as part of the Christian mission; both will see their faith and their loyalties tested.

Torn between her deepest beliefs and a desire to belong in a confusing, changing world, Wilona must battle for survival, dignity and love against overwhelming odds. Seamlessly combining timeless choices and struggles and rich, nuanced historical detail that brings pagan Britain to life, Against a Darkening Sky is an exquisitely rendered work of fiction from one of Canada's most acclaimed and celebrated novelists.

 

For me, this was about a 3.5 star reading experience, despite the fact that it has so many things that I really enjoy. First, its setting—at the point where country religions are being replaced by Christianity in Britain. Second, I loved that Wilona was a healer, as I enjoy that kind of character. And thirdly, Lauren B. Davis is an excellent writer.

Back in 2013, I read Nicola Griffith’s excellent book Hild, set in the same time frame. It was a mention that Hild appears in Davis’ book, that encouraged me to pick it up. Unfortunately, Hild makes only one cameo in this book as a child and we don’t see her again.

The ending is inevitable, but I still found it disappointing. I guess I am a pagan at heart and I’m always disappointed when Christianity triumphs. If you like this book, I would definitely recommend Hild, as well as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon and Mary Stewart’s Arthurian Saga, beginning with The Crystal Cave.