Redhook: Orbit. Oct. 2021. 416p. ISBN 9780316320771. $28. FANTASY
In Holland’s (The Wild Hunt) folkloric fantasy, three royal siblings face epic changes as the Saxons encroach on their father’s territory in sub-Roman Britain. The magic of their home is declining under the thumb of the monk Gildas and his Christian teachings, and each of the siblings tries to protect what means most to them. The eldest is Keyne, who struggles to grow into the man he is becoming, after being assigned female at birth. Middle sister Riva is blessed with healing powers but cannot heal herself from the trauma and physical and mental scars she sustained in a fire. The youngest, Senne, dreams of finding love, even at the expense of others’ happiness. Each of the siblings must make choices that will test their loyalties and love for each other and will affect not only their futures but those of the entire kingdom. The novel ably references medieval Britain, pagan and Christian religions, and the murder ballad “The Twa Sisters,” and the transmasculine protagonist Keyne fits into his time period well.
VERDICT Holland crafts a tale tied to folklore, history, and song, bringing rich detail and imagination to characters and setting. Give it to readers who have enjoyed Arthurian retellings or Madeline Miller’s Circe.
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