Verdict: An absolutely brilliant, haunting, and painfully beautiful young adult novel, spiced with romance, magic, and danger. Cecily is a fully-realized, vividly-drawn heroine, battling between fear and faith, love and betrayal, struggling with the scars of her past.
Seven girls were born in a village called Dunlowe, seventeen years ago, at the same time – and the village’s leader, Pastor Rowe, is convinced that this makes them a dire force of evil.
He has forbidden them ever to speak to each other, and has made them the target of hatred and vicious cruelty since their birth. Cecily Daye, one of the seven, finds herself trapped in a situation of increasing desperation between the family that cares for her, her love for Pastor Rowe’s son, Nate, and her good friend, Laura. When the seven girls are forced to flee, together for the first time in their lives, they find themselves using abilities they never thought they had, and finding refuge in the last place they might have imagined – the fearsome Wild Wood, rumored to be home to monsters and demons. But there, Cecily finds a new family, a different conflict, different burdens, power beyond her wildest dreams, and a task greater and more painful than any she could have imagined. Can she find peace for herself, her sisters, and her families, new and old? Who is she, and what is the destiny she and the other sevens were born for?
This is an absolutely brilliant, haunting, and painfully beautiful young adult novel, spiced with romance, magic, and danger. Cecily is a fully-realized, vividly-drawn heroine, battling between fear and faith, love and betrayal, struggling with the scars of her past (and the battle-scars of a country she hadn’t known existed) in order to draw forth a better future for herself and those she cares for. The other characters, too, even the evil Pastor Rowe, all have their own three-dimensional personalities, each of them battling their own inner and outer demons, more or less successfully according to their own strengths and weaknesses. The plot is gripping, and it is very hard to put this book down for any length of time until it is finished.
There are new and fascinating developments on each page, catching the reader’s attention and refusing to let go. The book is likewise powerful in its emotional portrayals – it is nearly impossible to read this and not be moved. Its chilling description of the horrors possible when humans allow fear to control them, as well as the evil people can wreak even on those they love in time of war, will haunt the thoughtful reader’s nightmares. The story’s resolution is satisfying, but not completely so – there is work yet for the expected sequel.
All in all, this is a book I highly recommend to the young adult or teenager (or anyone, really) in search of a well-written, thought-provoking, heart-rending and -mending fantasy novel. I look forward eagerly to the next in the series.
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader