The Blurb (from Goodreads):
Going home can be the hardest thing of all…
When Maeve, twenty year old daughter of Lord Sean of Sevenwaters, accompanies a skittish horse back to Erin, she must confront her demons. For Maeve carries the legacy of a childhood fire in her crippled hands. She has lived with her aunt in Britain for ten years, developing a special gift for gentling difficult animals.
Maeve arrives home to find Sevenwaters in turmoil. The forest surrounding her father’s keep also has uncanny inhabitants, including a community of Fair Folk. Now the fey prince Mac Dara has become desperate to see his only son return to the Otherworld to rule after him. To force Sean’s hand, Mac Dara has made innocent travellers on the Sevenwaters border disappear, and now their bodies are appearing one by one in bizarre circumstances. Mac Dara’s malign activities must be stopped. But how? What human army can defeat a force with magic at its fingertips?
Maeve’s gift with animals earns her respect at Sevenwaters. She bonds with her enigmatic small brother, Finbar, his druid tutor Luachan, and two stray dogs. When Maeve discovers the body of one of the missing men, she and Finbar are drawn into a journey where the stakes are high: they may bring about the end of Mac Dara’s reign, or suffer a hideous death. For Maeve, success may lead to a future she has not dared to believe possible.
Yippee! As far as I’m concerned, Juliet Marillier could bring out a new book every week and I’d be happy. I (like many, many other people) particularly love her books set at Sevenwaters. This new novel is number six. Each can be read alone, but they are definitely best read in order.
The heroine of this book is Maeve, who in an earlier book was badly burned while trying to rescue her dog from a fire. She was crippled as a result, her hands twisted into stiff and useless claws. For me, this gave the story echoes of the terrible fairy tale ‘Maiden with no Hands’. Like the poor handless maiden in that tale, Maeve must try and get through life without the use of her hands. In the tradition of Juliet’s heroines, however, she is brave, philosophical, and determined not to let her life be ruined. She gains comfort and consolation from the animals in her life, particularly a highly-strung stallion named Swift who can only be calmed by Maeve’s soft voice and gentle manner.
Maeve returns to Sevenwaters after many years, to find her home under threat from Mac Dara, the cruel king of the Underworld who was the villain of one or two earlier Sevenwaters tales. A group of travellers through the forest have disappeared, their bodies appearing in cruel and unusual ways. The ripple effect of these murders has Sevenwaters facing the very real possibility of war. Maeve befriends and tames two stray dogs, and her love for them and for her young brother Finbar sets off a chain of events that sees Maeve travelling by herself – crippled and very much afraid – into the Otherworld.
As always, Juliet Marillier’s new book is a beautiful story of love, courage, faith and kind-heartedness … and I want another one right NOW!!!