Wow, I’ve been MIA here for the last month. Sorry. Got caught up in my own writing/editing projects and kind of forgot about social media. But I’m back and will try to catch up on some of the awesome books I’ve read recently.
Today’s feature romance is a fantasy. I don’t usually read much fantasy because it can be cheesy at times, but Amy Harmon’s fantasies are one of the exceptions. Her fantasies are her strength, I believe (although I love any genre she writes). But I find myself rereading her fantasies because they make me feel things I don’t often feel, and she makes me think deeper and she makes my heart stretch farther. Her latest did not disappoint. I know I’ll be rereading this sometime next year.
The First Girl Child is a suspenseful fantasy with angsty romance, strong unique characters, fantastic world-building, and intense emotion woven all together. Harmon did a superb job of grounding me in the land of Saylok, where there are six different clans based on different animals—the eagle, bear, wolf, boar, lion, and horse. The story starts with two siblings who discover a magical cave of runes. The girl is entranced with the power, her brother is appalled and asks her never to visit that cave again.
Skip forward in time, the brother has grown and is a Keeper at the temple of Saylok. His sister shows up in the wood nearby, at death’s door after giving birth to an illegitimate son. With her dying blood, she makes a rune in the ground and curses the father of her baby and the land of Saylok with no more daughters until they can treat their woman better. This is how Bayr enters the world.
Bayr is blessed with godly strength, like Thor, and amazes those who know him. Meanwhile, his father (that he is never told about) becomes the new king—a bloodthirsty, selfish ruler—by tricking the people into believing his wife has given birth to the first daughter in the land in 7 years.
Alba, his supposed daughter, is truly the daughter of an albino slave girl brought in from another land. Ghost, as the mother is called, overhears the chieftain aspiring to be king order the execution of her and her owners after he takes her child from them and puts it in the arms of his unconscious wife who has just lost another baby. This is how Alba, daughter of a slave, becomes princess of all Saylok. Bayr, who is 7 at her birth, vows to be her protector.
This is the setup for this amazing, heart-rending story of forbidden love, power, promises, and undoing a blood curse that is tearing a nation apart. I couldn’t put this book down. The writing and plot pulled me in into this fascinating world, immersing me in magic, intrigue and love with unique and powerful characters. One word: exceptional!
Shh. Surely you know I will not hurt you,” he chided, wetting the cloth once more.
But he WAS hurting her. His kindness was like salt on raw skin. It would have been less painful if he’d struck her, and humiliating tears trickled down her cheeks and slipped between her lips. They were salty too, and the keeper sighed as he wiped them away.
Your strength is not just in your sinews and in your size. Your strength is in your faith and your courage. I’ve never seen you doubt.”
“I c-can’t sp-speak,” he insisted.
“It is your weakness. But weakness can make a man wise. You will listen more. You will think before you speak. You will never believe yourself all-powerful and all-knowing. You will never say what you do not mean.”
Seriously, if you have not read an Amy Harmon book, you’re missing out. Her books are always an experience to the deepest places of your heart, and you will finish being a better person for having read it. I know I am. I’m beyond grateful for authors like Harmon, who write books worth reading and rereading.