Title: The Ill-Made Mute
Author: Cecilia Dart-Thornton
Series: Bitterbynde #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Fae, High fantasy, Romance
Dates read: 8th – 22nd March 2020
Publisher: Pan Books
5th sentence, 74th page: This warmed their spirits somewhat, although not toward him.
While the lordly Stormriders land their splendid winged stallions on the airy battlements of Isse Tower, far below them, in the fortress’s depths, their superstitious servants sit by the hearth to tell each other ghastly tales of evil creatures inhabiting the world outside – a world most of them have only glimpsed. Yet it is the least of these servants – a mute, lowly, utterly despised foundling – who dares to scale the Twoer, sneak aboard a Windship, and then dive from the sky.
The terrified fiugitive is rescued by a kindhearted adventurer, who finally gives the poor creature a name – as well as the gift of communicating by handspeak, and an amazing truth never guessed at previously. Now the newly named ‘Imrhien’ begins a journey to distant Caermelor, in search of a wise woman whose skills may change everything.
Along the way, Imrhien struggles in a wilderness of endless danger – for those hearthside tales are all true. Unhuman wights haunt every pool, every turn in the road, and they perpetually threaten and torment all travellers. Lost, and pursued by these monsters, Imrhien is finally saved by a mysterious Dainnan ranger whose gallantry and courage are matched only by his martial skills. Unknown to them both, however, a deadly plot is unfolding… as a dark force summons the malignant hordes of Unseelie, and foul things amass in the night.
As the journey grows longer, the challenges more deadly, Imrhien discovers something more terriyfing than all of the evil eldritch wights combined. For this spurned outsider, with an angel’s soul and a gargoyle’s face, is suddnely falling in love…
In a thrilling debut combining masterful storytelling with a treasure trove of folklore, Cecilia Dart-Thornton creates a lushly romantic epic adventure of stunning scope and magical proportions, set in a world brimming with wonders and terrors.
I’ve been putting off reading this because it just looked seriously intense. And a little bit scary. Which are the kinds of books that I’ve been avoiding lately. And now I kind of regret that. I wasn’t wrong. This was intense, and full on and so multi-layered that my head felt like it could explode. But it was also amazing, unforgettable and kind of impossible to not think about. Whilst there were moments when I could put it down. There weren’t many moments in the two-week period of my reading that I actually stopped thinking about it…
One of my favourite things about this book was the world building. It was done in an incredibly unique way. Rather than the typical world building were facts are provided as the character travels through the world, the history, facts and shape of the world is provided as a series of stories and anecdotes told by the characters. To the amnesic lead. I loved flicking between what was currently happening and all of the tales being told by the supporting characters, there was something fun and unique about the way in which this was done. Although, it did mean that I had to pay attention – that way I knew who was talking about what.
Although Imrhien does have a romantic interest in this story (eventually), it’s not a heavy-handed romance. I can see where this story can go with that feeling of interest, and I can’t wait. But it’s not like the many other romances that I’ve been reading lately. Which was nice. This actually was a great book to read – it reminded me of all the reasons why I love fantasy so much. I’ve been on a fair bit of a romance kick lately…
The use of another language, the fae and the more traditional outlooks on them was absolutely brilliant. I get a bit fed up with the Peter Pan version of fae… so I love any book that sticks to the more Celtic, pagan views. And I can’t wait to find out more about this world and the past of Imrhien – I can only imagine that it is going to continue getting better and better as the next two books unfold!
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