• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: Riverhead Books (October 6, 2020)
In a world of pagan traditions and deeply rooted love, a girl in jeopardy must save her family and community. A transporting historical novel by New York Times-bestselling author Cathy Marie Buchanan.
It’s the season of Fallow, in the era of iron. In a northern misty bog surrounded by woodlands and wheat fields, a settlement lies far beyond the reach of the Romans invading hundreds of miles to the southeast. Here, life is simple–or so it seems to the tightly knit community. Sow. Reap. Honor Mother Earth, who will provide at harvest time. A girl named Devout comes of age, sweetly flirting with the young man she’s tilled alongside all her life, and envisions a future of love and abundance. Seventeen years later, though, the settlement is a changed place. Famine has brought struggle, and outsiders, with their foreign ways and military might, have arrived at the doorstep. For Devout’s young daughter, life is more troubled than her mother ever anticipated. But this girl has an extraordinary gift. As worlds collide and peril threatens, it will be up to her to save her family and community.
Set in a time long forgotten, Daughter of Black Lake brings the ancient world to life and introduces us to an unforgettable family facing an unimaginable trial.
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About Cathy Marie Buchanan
Cathy Marie Buchanan’s previous novels, The Painted Girls and The Day the Falls Stood Still, were both New York Times bestsellers, with The Painted Girls named a best book of the year by NPR, Good Housekeeping, and Goodreads. Buchanan’s work has been translated into nine languages. She lives in Toronto.
The loop of gut was doubled in such a way that by sliding the knots, it could be expanded to twice its size. He slipped the loop over her head and adjusted the knots so that the amulet hung at her throat.
She imagined going from roundhouse to roundhouse as she col‑ lected for the evening’s feast, the amulet in plain view on her neck. At each door, eyes would fall to the gleaming silver, and then a little smile would show what the matriarch handing over a clay flagon of wheaten beer had figured out. Devout—a hand—had drawn the attentions of Young Smith. He had recognized her piety, her skill, her place as apprentice healer and chosen her above any other maiden at Black Lake.
As Devout and Young Smith intruded on the woodland’s quiet with idle talk—the feast, the boar Young Hunter had speared, the late‑night merriment to come—she felt moisture collect at her hair‑ line. This, when in his absence, she had pulled her skin cape tighter against the woodland’s chill. When he wiped his brow, she saw that it glistened, no different from her own, and her heart fluttered. Oh, but he was humble as stone. And handsome, too—warm eyed, full lipped, broad shouldered—this boy she had never dared consider, this boy who had singled her out.
Eventually he said, “I should go,” but his feet remained rooted. “It’ll be my first Feast of Purification.”
“Yes,” he said.
“Your second,” she said and thought herself daft. Boys attended the feast from the age of thirteen, and girls only after they began to bleed with the new moon.
He nodded, and her eyes fell to the woodland floor. “Tonight, then?” he said.
She forced herself to look up, but his warm eyes were on her and her gaze flitted to beyond his shoulder. “Tonight,” she said and lifted a hand to touch his arm, but too late. He had turned away.
When she could no longer make out his retreating back, she again put her fingertips to her lips and then the woodland floor. Before she had fully straightened, she heard the song of a bullfinch— a string of quick chirps broken by a longer, lower one. It was Arc— a boy, just her age, whom she had sowed and reaped alongside since childhood—calling to her. Should she answer, repeating the song, as was their custom?
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The vivid imagery painted by Buchanan is like none other. You can almost see, feel and even smell the area around you.
So who exactly are we following along the story?
Smith, Devout his wife and their daughter Hobble. Hobble is a seeress with an incredible gift, and pretty soon she has a vision of the Roman invasion coming to their bog.
The story shifts back and forth between Devout the mom, and Hobble her daughter, both women devoted to Mother Earth and their family. What I love is that we get to see the daily going ons inside a an iron age bog, and we get to be privvy to their innermost thoughts and desires.
A story of coming of age for both mother and daughter, choices that were made, a bond between family and insight into a fascinating time and era. It has it all.
Daughter of Black Lake is by far, one of the best books I have read.