Dark Earth

Random. Jul. 2022. 336p. ISBN 9780812989113. $27. F
Nonfiction and fiction writer Stott (Ghostwalk) recreates the past in a novel of two sisters in post-Roman Britain. Next to the great river that will one day be known as the Thames, Isla and Blue live with their father, a famous metalsmith. After their father dies, Isla and Blue turn for protection to their kin in the closest village, ruled by the superstitious Osric and his violent son, Vort. When it is discovered that Isla’s father taught her to forge swords, work forbidden to women, the sisters flee violence and imprisonment. They seek refuge in the ruins of Londinium, the stone city long abandoned by the Romans. In the ghost city, which locals say is cursed, Isla and Blue find a community of castoffs. Eager to support their new friends and evade capture, Blue learns more about healing, and Isla returns to the forge. When Vort seeks vengeance, the sisters rely on their newfound skills and friends to defend what has become their home.
VERDICT Stott’s engaging story, conjured from a real-life archaeological find, casts light on a little-known time in the early European Dark Ages.
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