Read for: Requested Review/Netgalley/ Anticipated Release
Synopsis: "This rich literary novel follows Elen, who must live a precarious lie in order to survive among the medieval Welsh warband that killed her family.
Wales, 1109. Three years ago, a warband raided Elen’s home. Her baby sister could not escape the flames. Her older sister fought back and almost killed the warband’s leader, Owain ap Cadwgan, before being killed herself. Despite Elen’s own sexual assault at the hands of the raiders, she saw a chance to live and took it. She healed Owain’s wound and spun a lie: Owain ap Cadwgan, son of the king of Powys, cannot be killed, not by blade nor blow nor poison. Owain ap Cadwgan has the protection of Saint Elen, as long as he keeps her namesake safe from harm and near him always.
For three years, Elen has had plenty of food, clothes to wear, and a bed to sleep in that she shares with the man who brought that warband to her door. Then Owain abducts Nest, the wife of a Norman lord, and her three children, triggering full-out war. As war rages, and her careful lies threaten to unravel, Elen begins to look to Nest and see a different life — if she can decide, once and for all, where her loyalties lie. J. Anderson Coats’s evocative prose immerses the reader in a dark but ultimately affirming tale of power and survival."
My Review: I am a big fan of books set in medieval times and when I came across this book I was really intrigued. It was a fairly short book but it took quite a while to read. I really wanted to enjoy this book and at times I really did but overall it was a bit lack luster. A lot happens but at the same time not a lot does, it has a slow pace with not a lot of ups and downs. I couldn't connect with the characters or story. With that said, the way the world at the time is portrayed shows the brutal and harsh world women were forced to navigate with little to no power. I think it was a pretty accurate portrayal. There is also a theme of PTSD running throughout the story, Elen is forced to deal with the past trauma on her own and in her own way. While it wasn't a book that was easy reading, it was a well researched portrayal of the life of women at the time.
My Rating: I was a little disappointed with this book, it was a slow and tedious read but it was well researched. I just lacked any kind of connection with the characters or story. I give it a rating of Two Paws.
I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion.