By the bestselling author of The Painted Girls When a remote, ancient settlement is threatened, it is up to one girl to save her family and her community
It’s the season of Fallow, the first century AD. In a misty northern bog surrounded by woodlands and wheat fields, lies a settlement far beyond the reach of the Roman invaders, who are still hundreds of miles to the southeast. Here, life is simple, or so it seems to the tightly knit community. Sow. Reap. Honour Mother Earth, who will provide at harvest time.
A girl named Devout comes of age. She flirts sweetly with the young man who has tilled the earth alongside her all her life, envisioning a future of love and abundance. Seventeen years later, however, the settlement is a changed place. Famine has brought struggle, and outsiders, with their military might and foreign ways, 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 her community. Immersing readers in a lost world of pagan traditions, Daughter of Black Lake is a transporting story of love, family, survival and the sublime power of the natural world.
Buchanan (The Day the Falls Stood Still) captures in this immersive, supernatural latest the hardships of village life in first-century Britain. Hobble, 13, lives with her healer mother, Devout, and blacksmith father, Smith, in the remote hamlet of Black Lake. Hobble, named for her lame leg and prone to unusual visions, foresees the arrival of the Romans to their settlement. Her prediction draws the attention of Fox, a recently arrived, menacing itinerant druid who is fomenting resistance to Roman rule. Fox threatens to revive the village's "old ways" and sacrifice Hobble to the gods unless she agrees to predict the outcome of his planned rebellion. Buchanan parallels Hobble's story with Devout's own 14th year, when Devout was courted both by Smith, who lost all his male relatives in a doomed rebellion that year, and by fellow farm laborer Arc. Devout barely survives a terrible crop failure and consents to be Arc's wife, only for him to die soon after. In the present, Fox's demands grow until he pushes the villagers too far. Buchanan's descriptions of pagan rituals are fully realized and provide a haunting, engaging backdrop for the two teenage protagonists. Fans of thoughtful, inventive historical fiction will enjoy this transporting novel.