Monday 1 February 2010

Book Review: Juliet Marillier - Foxmask

After reading, and enjoying Wolfskin, I was looking forward to reading the sequel, which of course, Kooky Little Sister obligingly found for me. Wolfskin was about the warrior Eyvind, the cunning Somerled and the priestess Nessa. Foxmask is about their children – Eyvind and Nessa’s sweet-natured daughter Creidhe and Somerled’s intense and introspective son Thorvald.

Creidhe has grown up loved and happy and has always loved Thorvald although he appears not to know she exists. Thorvald is raised alone by his stern widowed mother Margaret with the legacy of his fathers murderous reign of the island hanging over him.

When Thorvald is given an old letter by his mother that indicates that his father may be alive in a distant island he resolves to sail there and find him. When Creidhe realises what he plans, she stows away on the boat carrying him there, much to his anger. Their squabbles are soon forgotten when they think they have found the island they are looking for only to realise that something terrible has been happening there.

The inhabitants of the island believe they are under a curse which kills their newborns and that they must go on an annual “hunt” in an attempt to find the cause of the curse losing the lives of many young men each year as they do so. At the same time Thorvald believes that he may have found his father, but is not prepared to reveal himself until he can prove himself worthy of being the son of a great man.

This book is set in the remote islands off of the Scottish shore and Marillier succeeds in creating a harsh and windswept landscape. The plot moves along at a decent pace, but I did find it quite predictable. I got tired of the introspection and self-pity of the characters after a while. They did not quite have the attraction of the preceding novels main characters and I got tired of all the sailing, rocks and wind.

The first book benefited from the descriptions of Nordic life, the interactions between the Folk of the Isles and the settling Norsemen, the friendship between Eyvind and Somerled and the chemistry between Eyvind and Nessa. This book revolved around miserable people on a miserable bunch of rocks. The supernatural element is far stronger, in Wolfskin it complemented the story, here it is no longer subtle, but takes centre stage.

I thoroughly enjoyed Wolfskin and got very involved with the characters. I did not find that Foxmask had quite the same effect on me and only read to the end to see if what I thought would happen, did happen. It did.

Book Review: Juliet Marillier - Wolfskin

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