Child of the Prophecy is the thrilling conclusion to Juliet Marillier’s award-winning Sevenwaters Trilogy.
Magic is fading… and the ways of Man are driving the Old Ones to the West, beyond the ken of humankind. The ancient groves are being destroyed, and if nothing is done, Ireland will lose its essential mystic core.
The prophecies of long ago have foretold a way to prevent this horror, and it is the Sevenwaters clan that the Spirits of Eire look to for salvation. They are a family bound into the lifeblood of the land, and their promise to preserve the magic has been the cause of great joy to them… as well as great sorrow.
It is up to Fainne, daughter of Niamh, the lost sister of Sevenwaters, to solve the riddles of power. She is the shy child of a reclusive sorcerer, and her way is hard, for her father is the son of the wicked sorceress Oonagh, who has emerged from the shadows and seeks to destroy all that Sevenwaters has striven for. Oonagh will use her granddaughter Fainne most cruelly to accomplish her ends, and stops at nothing to see her will done.
Will Fainne be strong enough to battle this evil and save those she has come to love?
“My daughter,” I said blankly. “I see. Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought it took a man, as well as a woman, to make a child. Is this infant’s father to be a crab, or a seagull maybe? Or were you planning to shipwreck some likely sailor on my doorstep, so I can make convenient use of him?”
This is such a hard review to write because I loved this book so much. There is something about Marillier’s writing that is completely absorbing. I’ve only read her original Sevenwaters Trilogy so far, but each of those books has succeeded in captivating me with a full range of real emotion. I wasn’t sure if the first two books were just flukes, but with the third, Marillier has made it onto my favorite authors list, and books 2 and 3 are solidly on my favorites shelf.
Man sets his hand to games of power and influence, he quests for far horizons and wealth beyond imagining. He thinks to own what cannot be possessed. He hews the ancient trees to broaden his grazing lands; he mines the deep caves and topples the standing stones. He embraces a new faith with fervor and, perhaps, with sincerity. But he grows ever further from the old things. He can no longer hear the heartbeat of the earth, his mother. He cannot smell the change in the air; he cannot see what lies beyond the veil of shadows. Even his new god is formed in his own image, for do they not call him the son of man? By his own choice he is cut adrift from the ancient cycles of sun and moon, the ordered passing of the seasons. And without him, the Fair Folk dwindle and are nothing. They retreat and hide themselves, and are reduced to the clurichaun with his little ale jug; the brownie who steals the cow’s milk at Samhain; the half-heard wailing of the banshee. They become no more than a memory in the mind of a frail old man; a tale told by a crazy old woman.
Sevenwaters is a family saga telling the tales of the women from the Sevenwaters family. The series started with the wild swans fairy-tale retelling featuring the Daughter of the Forest, Sorcha and continued with Sorcha’s daughter, Liadan in Son of the Shadows. Child of the Prophecy tells the story of Fainne, daughter of Niamh (Liadan’s sister). For me, Niamh was a shimmering star shining brightly on the margins of a very bleak main story and so I looked forward to reading about her daughter with a great anticipation.
What I loved about Fainne the most is that she is flawed, both physically and spiritually. The girl is plain (let us ignore for the moment her purple eyes *insert an eye roll here*) and has a disfigured foot resulting in a limp. Furthermore, Fainne believes herself to be cursed by her heritage, blood of the evil sorceress Oonagh (her granny), which , on the one hand, gives her powerful magic and on the other sets her steps toward a destiny of darkness. Sorcha and Liadan were two super-snowflakes. Sorcha had to, and because of the fairy-like quality of the retelling it didn’t bother me, but Liadan I couldn’t stomach as you know (team Niamh!). I liked Fainne not only because she is not pretty, but also because she is a walking (well, limping) proof that having magic doesn’t make you smart or sociable or courageous or all three indeed.
You can forgive the idiotic setup when you realize that the whole plot is one big, fat excuse for a romance. Sevenwaters is not a fantasy, it is a pure “romantasy”, that is a romance in a fantasy milieu. While the two previous installments worked with the “from enemies to lovers” motif, the Child of the Prophecy works with the “from childhood friends to lovers” theme. I won’t deny – not my favorite of tropes. I found the romance lacking in all departments: lukewarm, without sparkles, tension, and frictions. There was nothing to keep my interest or engage me emotionally.