Date Published: October 23, 2015
Valentia is a privileged young woman from a wealthy farming family in 19th century Ohio. Her grandmother had been a storyteller, weaving tales of romance and adventure from her native Ireland, and told her granddaughter of a special family heirloom – a brooch that had been left behind with her family. Valentia decides that she must find her grandmother’s long-lost family, as well as the brooch. She has disturbing dreams featuring the brooch and sees strange lights whenever she looks at the drawing.
As she travels with her brother (Conor), his valet (Brendan) and her ladies’ maid (Maggie) through Pittsburgh and New York, Valentia’s eyes take in the wide world.
In Ireland, crippled by chronic illness, she learns about the Irish famine from some local activists. She becomes intrigued with the movement, and vows to help in what ways she can. She befriends Siobhan and Aiden, siblings. Siobhan shows her a stone circle, and she has a mystical experience.
When she has recovered, she travels north to Donegal. When she finally does find the town her grandmother came from, she is confronted with an imperious great-aunt (Eithne) and a rather bumbling cousin who falls in love with her.
The cousin (Donal) starts to court her, and after some time, Donal proposes to her, but she turns him down, determined to finish her quest first. The parting upsets them both.
Chasing rumors of her other great-aunt (Esme), she travels south. Valentia finally finds Esme in Kenmare, and the brooch, which has hidden powers
After finding Valentia’s power, Esme begins to succumb to her own illness. Valentia tries to heal it, but at a great cost.
Valentia had hoped to settle in Kenmare, at Esme’s house, but she is driven out and travels back to Donegal, stopping to the asylum where Donal is held, but is unable to heal him. Eithne has died, so Valentia takes over the estate, healing local people where she can, discreetly.
I loved the authentic feel of the Historical aspect of this novel. I really felt like even thought this is Fantasy it is very well done as far as the time and setting. I appreciated that!
I really enjoyed the flow of this novel. It read very easily and smooth and the pacing was spot on even without a crazy amount of action.
Characterization is always important and I liked the well rounded characters she created.
10 favorite authors and why
Diana Gabaldon – Diana weaves very rich and complex situations and peoples them with three-dimensional characters that come to life. The bad guys have virtues and the good guys have flaws. People fart in bed, but they also heroically charge the enemy in battle. Her level of detail amazes and fascinates me.
Sharon Kay Penman – the historical detail and research Penman puts into her novels is wonderful. I enjoy the political intrigues and peccadillos of historical figures, and they come to life under her pen.
Robert Heinlein – While Heinlein is pretty good at writing autobiographical characters (can we say Lazarus Long and Jubal Harshaw, anyone?) he was also good at preaching his personal beliefs without it seeming like preaching. I couldn’t get into Frank Herbert’s books for that reason. Heinlein is great at putting humor in his characters, though was not as good at giving his heroes flaws. Most of his heroes were damn near perfect.
Anne McCaffrey – McCaffrey was my first author love. Her Dragonriders of Pern books got me through my awkward and shy teenage years, and for years (perhaps even now!) I dream of finding a dragon egg and flying away to escape my tormentors. She was excellent at building worlds in which I wanted to live.
Morgan Llewellyn – Historical fantasy at its most accessible. Llewellyn kindled my love for the ancient Celts and the various parts of history she addressed. Her ability to bring quasi-mythical, quasi-historical people to life was seemingly effortless. She’s the main reason I took to historical fantasy in my novels.
Bernard Cornwell – I first came across Cornwell because of Sean Bean in the Sharpe’s Rifles television series, and had to read the books. They are incredibly well written about the details of warfare and the privations of the common soldier. It was fascinating to me, despite the fact that Napoleonic wars were not my favorite time period. Nevertheless, I moved on to other books he’d written, such as the Saxon Chronicles. He also inspired me to read other Napoleonic series, such as Horatio Hornblower, Master & Commander, and Temeraire.
Edward Rutherfurd – What a wonderful concept he does – he takes a place, such as London or New York, and writes about people there throughout the ages. For instance, the pre-historic people of the London area are in the first chapters, followed by their descendants several generations later, following the family line up to the present day. Most of his books use this formula, and it makes for a fascinating comparison of the different ages in a particular spot.
Maeve Binchy – Binchy is probably my most ‘vanilla’ author, but her everyday scenes and portrayals of Irish folk is fascinating to me, as I have an eternal love of all things Irish. There is no fantasy or magic, no particular attachment to historical events, just stories of people in Irish towns and cities. And good stories.
Jim Butcher – I’m a bit late to the party on Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books – I’ve been devouring them all year. It’s a guilty pleasure, as I normally don’t like what’s ‘popular’, but a modern day Chicago wizard detective that hits all the Noir stereotypes and laughs at them? What’s not to like? The modern references are gold, something I miss from my historical addiction. He can reference Princess Bride, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter all in one sentence, and it makes me laugh.
Mercedes Lackey – I’ve been a fan of Lackey’s pure fantasy world for decades, starting with her Valdemar books. She has an innate ability to weave a believable fantasy realm, complete with societal conflicts, wars and cultures, almost on the same level as Tolkein.
My name is Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon. I do many things, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing and photography. In real life I'm a CPA, but having grown up with art and around me (my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected me, as it were. I love to draw and to create things. It's more of an obsession than a hobby. I like looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or a fragrant blossom, a dramatic seaside. I then wish to take a picture or create a piece of jewelry to share this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others. Sometimes this sharing requires explanation – and thus I write. Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. I do local art and craft shows, as well as sending my art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.
I live in Warfordsburg, PA with my husband, Jason, my cat, Spot, my dog, Dax, and two sugar gliders named Arya and Sansa.