Review by Booklist Review
*Starred Review* In her first foray into historical fiction, Griffith explores the young life of Hild, the future St. Hilda of Whitby. Set in seventh-century Anglo-Saxon England, during the early years of Christianity there, the novel begins with the sudden death of Hild's father, Lord Hereric. To secure the futures of her daughters, Hild's ruthless and cunning mother embarks on a plan to hook their fate to the coattails of Edwin Snakebeard, Lord Hereric's ambitious brother and king-to-be. Soon, Hild becomes Edwin's trusted seer, and as the novel progresses, she attempts to stay in his favor, treading carefully among the large egos of the court and knowing that her survival depends as much on luck as it does on the accuracy of her predictions. Griffith expertly blends an exploration of seventh-century court life and a detailed character study of Hild as she balances a need for acceptance, love, and friendship and a desire to escape the strict gender roles of her time. While fierce battles and political intrigue feature prominently, so do the fascinating details of everyday life, particularly the lives of women. In short, Griffith triumphs with this intelligent, beautifully written, and meticulously researched novel.--Price, Kerri Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Award-winning LGBT author Griffith brings a sci-fi appreciation for alien culture and a woman's perspective to this fictional coming-of-age story about real-life Saint Hilda of Whitby, who grew up pagan in seventh-century Britain. Daughter of a poisoned prince and a crafty noblewoman, quiet, bright-minded Hild arrives at the court of King Edwin of Northumbria, where the six-year-old takes on the role of seer/consiglieri for a monarch troubled by shifting allegiances and Roman emissaries attempting to spread their new religion. Eventually Hild is baptized along with Edwin-a scene Griffith depicts as less about spirituality than pomp and politics. Puberty's sexual awakening soon follows, propelling Hild toward her slave girl, then the former girlfriend of Hild's longtime boyfriend, Cian, who teaches Hild swordsmanship and other manly skills. Britain in the years after Rome is a relatively undiscovered country for historical fiction. Griffith goes boldly into the territory, lingering over landscape, wallowing in language, indulging the senses, mixing historical fact with feminist fiction in a sweeping panorama of peasants working, women weaving, children at play, and soldiers in battle: the Dark Ages transformed into a fantasy world of skirt and sword. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, The Gernert Agency. (Nov. 12) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
This is the epic coming-of-age story of Hilda of Whitby, considered to be one of the patron saints of learning and culture. Set in seventh-century Britain, the beautifully written tale brings light to the everyday world of the Dark Ages while exploring a treacherous time. Richly detailed and centered on the friendship of women, Griffith's tale is fraught with mysticism, battles, and political peril. The use of medieval English helps transport readers into another place and time. VERDICT The author's meticulous research, worldbuilding, and passion for history shine in this vast and vastly entertaining book that should appeal to fans of Hilary Mantel and T.H. White. (LJ 8/13) (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A historical novel of early medieval England to do T.H. White proud, based on the real life of the "Anglisc" girl who would become Saint Hilda of Whitby. Of Hilda's--Hild's--life not much is known, save that she was an adept administrator and intellectually tough-minded champion of Christianity in the first years of its arrival in Britain. The lacuna affords Griffith (Stay, 2002, etc.) the opportunity to put her well-informed imagination to work while staying true to the historical details, over which she lingers with a born antiquarian's love for the past. Griffith's attention to those details is refreshing and welcome, for the Dark-Age time of Hild is a confusing welter of battling Angles, Celts, Picts and even a few holdover Romanized Britons, of contending lords and would-be lords; Griffith's narrative may be densely woven, but she provides clues and context enough for readers to keep the story and its players straight in their minds. "Straight" is perhaps not the best operative word, though, for Griffith does manage to get in a few scenes in which our saint-to-be finds herself on the verge of doing Very Naughty Things to and with her "bodyman": "She ached. She felt so alone. She wanted to feel Gwladus respond, rise under her, strong and fierce. Hers." No wonder those British huts, as Griffith writes early on, were always hot. In all events, Griffith does admirable work in imagining and populating the ancient British world and all its to-us exotic customs, its deep learning, its devotion to magic and prophesy--and Hild is a master thereof, from ferreting out plots against the crown to determining from a taste of mead that secret deals are being cut with the nasty Franks. A book that deserves a place alongside T.H. White, to say nothing of Ellis Peters. Elegantly written--and with room for a sequel.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.