Maeve, daughter of Lord Sean of Sevenwaters, was badly burned as a child and carries the legacy of that fire in her crippled hands. After ten years she’s returning home as a courageous, forthright woman with a special gift for taming difficult animals. But while her body’s scars have healed, her spirit remains fragile, as she fears the shadows of her past.
Sevenwaters is in turmoil. The fey prince Mac Dara has become desperate to see his only son, who is married to Maeve’s sister, return to the Otherworld. To force Lord Sean’s hand, Mac Dara has caused a party of innocent travelers on the Sevenwaters border to vanish.
When Maeve finds one of the missing travelers murdered in the woods, she and her brother Finbar embark on a journey that may bring about the end of Mac Dara’s reign — or lead to a hideous death. But if she is successful, Maeve may open a door to a future she has not dared to believe possible . . . Quoted from Goodreads
This might be the last book in the Sevenwaters saga, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. While I have enjoyed all the books, there are some I like more than others. I absolutely love Daughter of the Forest and Heir to Sevenwaters. The others were good, but I didn't love them as much as the two I mentioned. I liked this one a lot. It was, for me, an absolute improvement over the last book, but it still didn't come up to the level of Daughter and Heir. Still, in some ways it was the perfect ending. It didn't get all preachy like Child of the Prophecy, and left me with hope for everyone's future. Still, I would love a book from Finbar's POV.
Of course the writing itself was fantastic. Marilliar's prose are always beautifully descriptive, breathing life into the world and characters she created. In most books I don't notice the writing as much more than the vehicle relaying the story, but Marilliars writing is generally lovely enough you have to take note, while it sucks you deeper into her world.
Meave has one special gift. It is that gift that brings her back to her home in Sevenwaters and makes the protagonist of this story. She has a special way with animals, and it is that gift, and Maeve's love for them, that moves the story along. Anyone who knows me can attest I'm not the biggest animal person. Honestly the idea of a dog sleeping in my bed gives me the creeps, so this book could have been a huge fail for me based on that alone. But it wasn't. Meave was such a likable character, with her weaknesses and strengths, that I was able to relate to her love for Bear and Badger, her two dogs, and Swift, her horse.
The plot was a little slow for me in the beginning. Horrible things happen, but they were several steps too far removed from Meave for me to feel the urgency. Her concerns were much more internal: her family's acceptance, judgemental outsiders, her relationship with her younger brother, Finbar, and training her animals. Where I really started to love the book is when Finbar gets lost in the Otherworld and Meave has to find him. This is where we get the real hardships, betrayals, harrowing journeys, and even romance. The beginning was needed to set up the adventure, but it is the last half that I really enjoyed.
It was fun to see a lot of the characters from previous books. I wish Cathal and Clodagh would have been in it more, but I guess Marilliar is trying to give Meave her own story so I won't complain too much. All in all this was an excellent adventure. The romance was sweet, albeit a little unexpected and sudden. The characters had a proper amount of suffering before they got their happy ending, and there was enough sacrifice and bravery to make you love them.
This book lands solidly between 3.5 and 4 stars for me, but because of the writing I'm rounding it up. It was a good end to the series. I wouldn't read it if you haven't read the previous books (and if you haven't, go out and read Daughter of the Forest. It's lovely), but it is an absolute must if you have.