WHY haven’t I known about Angela Slatter till now?
I feel like the presentation of this book is aiming to attract fans of Patricia McKillip; and if so, it worked on me, at least. I wouldn’t argue with that decision, but while this story contains the magical mix of fairytale and realism that McKillip’s work does, this story is quite a bit darker, in some ways.
Mistress Gideon is a witch, in a rural, medieval-esque world that punishes magic users with death. She’s hidden her original identity and, of course, making her living as a healer – tolerated by her community for her usefulness. However, Gideon’s secret is not the only one in the town, and although she’s very much not looking for trouble, trouble is bound to come her way.
The characterization here is wonderful: Slatter succeeds brilliantly in making her people jump off the pages and into our hearts – even though they’re not at all ‘nice.’ Indeed, many of them are selfish, petty, short-sighted, and display many of the most unfortunate qualities of humanity. Gideon herself is pragmatic to the point of ruthlessness, and although we sympathize with her, I couldn’t help understanding just why some communities might not want her or those like her around.
After finishing this, I immediately went out and made a request for another of Slatter’s books through interlibrary loan. This is my very favorite sort of story.
Also, I want to give a nod to the cover artists, Anna & Elena Balbusso. Lovely work! http://www.balbusso.com/index.php?opt…
Many thanks to NetGalley and Tor for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.