Set in AD45 in Britain, this is a story of colliding worlds, dying cultures and a tale of belonging. Ilka Tampke has taken the historical novel into new realms, weaving druid lore, shape shifters, belonging, clashing cultures and coming of age into a fascinating story of life in Britain on the cusp of the Roman invasion. Abandoned at birth Ailia does not have ‘skin’, an alignment with a totem that links to their ancestors, the land and gives the keys to learning. Ailia longs to learn and she attracts two very different men to her side. One is fascinated by the Romans and all the advancement that they can bring and other is steeped in the old ways of magic and the spirit realm.
Tampke is an Australian writer who imbues this historical novel with fantasy, deep layers of story, all the while building on factual history and the everyday life of the Celts, 500 years before the Arthurian legend, is brought to beautiful, dreamy life. I adore Celtic history and stories of the Druids and the layers of belief these tribes and villages built within their lives to manage nature, community and family. Change is coming with the invasion of the Romans and how the tribes respond and survive is only one layer of this novel. The other is the story of Ailia, a girl who longs for something different, who will sacrifice others to get it and will break the rules if she has to.
The second part of the series, The Songwoman, has just been published as well so you can immediately binge read part two. My holiday reading is all set!