The original Grimm’s tales and the folklore on which it was based and the folk tales unique to Native Americans was dark, outre literature. Oftentimes, original meaning was lost in the folds of time. This brilliantly constructed tale borrows aspects from both Grimm and Native American folklore in creating a disturbing fantastical tale of destiny, love, betrayal and change.
The Corsae [Crow] people led by the Magpie King reside in the great forest. The center of power and nobility rests in the mountaintop castle, the Eyrie. Also lurking in the forest are the Wolves, a nocturnal, monstrous people that prey on the Corsae villages.
Woven throughout the novel are tales from the Corsae people, some high-born, some low-born, that center on 2 recurrent figures. The Magpie King is always the champion of the nobility and representative for all Corsae. The title is a mantle one wears–no distinction between various historic Magpie Kings is drawn. The second figure is Artemis [not to be confused with the Greek Goddess of the hunt], a lowborn trickster folk hero that checks the Magpie King and represents the common folk. These tales appearing between every chapter provide rich cultural history informing the plot.
The novel centers on Lonan, a young man on the outs with his entire village and family after the death of his father to the monsters in the night. His mother rejects him. The love of his life, Branwen, rejects him. The only soul kind to him is the Healer, Mother Ogma. Lonan develops dreams that link him to Adahy, the son of the Magpie King. Adahy clearly doesn’t feel ready for the mantle which would require a supernatural journey just to earn it.
Their entwined tale links the villages to the Eyrie and crosses Wolves and the mysterious Lonely Lady, a faceless hag in the deep forest, as 2 men separately try to do what’s right. And at terrible cost . . .
This tale is highly recommended.