This fantasy adventure starts somewhat uncertainly, but my advice is to keep with it and you will be rewarded by a page-turning adventure.
In medieval England, early Christians battle the forces of magic and the dark forests are filled with wolves. Laura, an eighteen year old convent girl, is chosen for a dangerous question. She must find a magical weapon of mass destruction and keep it safe from war-mongering demon hordes. She has a rival in her quest; Ciaran, a young wizard, longs to possess this instrument of power. They meet by chance and for a time they travel together, helping each other to face the dangers that wait for them on the path through the forest. But unknown to Laura, Ciaran is hiding something – or is it something hiding deep within Ciaran?
The notion that a young convent girl in medieval times is allowed to regularly practice with a sword, initially jarred with me. However, we do know that some women rose to positions of power within the early Christian church – and history is dotted with women who dressed up as soldiers and sailors and served alongside men in close quarters for whole campaigns without being discovered. There are even reports of Pope Joan, who ruled during the Middle Ages, and was only revealed when she gave birth… When all these facts are taken into account, then young Laura’s skill with a sword may not seem so surprising. And after a relatively short time, I stopped caring anyhow, as I got swept up in the plot. Another piece of advice – don’t judge this particular book by its cover… The soft focus and beautiful scenery led me to believe that I would be reading a fantasy romance and while there is a love interest in the book, it is not the engine that drives this story. This book is far sharper with a lot more action and sword-swinging adventure than I expected.
Bartholomew produces an event-filled plot. Her characterisation, though adequate, could be fuller and at times the dialogue is a tad clunky – but I’ll forgive her all that because she whips the story along at a fair clip, not forgetting to tie up all the trailing ends. She is also adept at setting the scene without holding up the action – something more experienced authors often seem unable to do – and while I thought I knew exactly where the story was going, it soon took off in an entirely new direction that had me sitting up late at night to discover what would happen next.
So, having taken us on this enjoyable fantasy adventure, does Bartholomew successfully manage to bring her story to a satisfying end? Yes, she does. I understand that there is a sequel is in the pipeline and I will be on the lookout for it in due course.