Publication Date: 6th November 2013
Publisher: MacMillian Australia
Age Group: Young Adult to Adult
Going home can be the hardest thing of all...The last of the Sevenwaters books (for now) follows the adventures of young Maeve, last seen when she was tragically disfigured and crippled during the events of Child of the Prophecy. Now Maeve returns home to the pitying and horrified stares and she must face her fears to save the family she has been hiding from for ten years.
When Maeve, twenty year old daughter of Lord Sean of Sevenwaters, accompanies a skittish horse back to Erin, she must confront her demons. For Maeve carries the legacy of a childhood fire in her crippled hands. She has lived with her aunt in Britain for ten years, developing a special gift for gentling difficult animals.
Maeve arrives home to find Sevenwaters in turmoil. The forest surrounding her father's keep also has uncanny inhabitants, including a community of Fair Folk. Now the fey prince Mac Dara has become desperate to see his only son return to the Otherworld to rule after him. To force Sean's hand, Mac Dara has made innocent travellers on the Sevenwaters border disappear, and now their bodies are appearing one by one in bizarre circumstances. Mac Dara's malign activities must be stopped. But how? What human army can defeat a force with magic at its fingertips?
Maeve's gift with animals earns her respect at Sevenwaters. She bonds with her enigmatic small brother, Finbar, his druid tutor Luachan, and two stray dogs. When Maeve discovers the body of one of the missing men, she and Finbar are drawn into a journey where the stakes are high: they may bring about the end of Mac Dara's reign, or suffer a hideous death. For Maeve, success may lead to a future she has not dared to believe possible.
What I Liked: Maeve is an interesting protagonist. When Marillier worked with Fainne in Child of the Prophecy, who had disfigured foot causing a limp and a natural shyness that made her an awkward heroine, she showed us she could write a heroine who could be flawed. Maeve was a much bigger undertaking, with her stiff crippled hands like claws and facial scarring. She is practical about her physical appearance – knowing she would be beautiful if not for the scarring and she has accepted she will never have a normal life.
Maeve can be somewhat bitter, not about her disfigurement, but in her feelings towards her family, particularly her Mother. She cannot reconcile the woman she faces with the Mother of her childhood, causing tensions between them that do not exist between Maeve and her father.
Her adventure is exciting and Maeve has a decidedly different time in the Other world and amongst the Fair Folk than in previous Sevenwaters tales. Her perspective allows an almost domestic insight into the Tuatha Dé Danann that makes them at once more, and less, magical than before.
The secondary story arc of the druid keeps the two time lines in place and prepares us for the final show down. Written like a tale told by the fire, the Druid’s adventures show Marillier’s dedication to the old seek and find tales.
On a side note: It was also good to see some follow up to Marillier’s short storyTwixt Firelight and Water, and to know Eilis is off on her own adventure, even if we won’t see it, and to know Aisha and Conri seem to be getting their happily ever after.
What I Didn’t Like: Flame of Sevenwaters is the sixth book in a beloved series, and when you’ve been adventuring alongside an author for as long as I’ve been reading Juliet Marillier (not to mention re-reading) you start to recognise their styles and it can make the story a little predictable. Almost from the beginning I knew how three or four of the main threads of the novel would unravel.
For the most part it doesn’t matter; even when you can predict an outcome in the book, Marillier does it in an unexpected way. It does sometimes blunt some of the delight when there is a moment of revelation. I can live with that though.
A thrilling conclusion (for now!) to one of my all time favourite series, and one I think many will thoroughly enjoy. It certainly looks good standing in a row on my bookshelf.