Briony is a witch. A despicable witch who can summon powerful winds to hurt her beautiful sister, invoke devastating floods to cripple her devoted stepmother, and who is sure to be hanged if the villagers ever find out about her wickedness. In the murk of Swampsea her self-loathing festers, as does the swamp cough that is claiming the lives of so many children. But the arrival of clever Eldric starts a chain reaction that strips away the layers of deceit that surround Briony and her past, exposing the myths people spin around themselves in a place where myths are real and often deadly.
This is an intriguing romance that plays with fairytale conventions to create and original and convincing story, one of pure fantasy yet with a psychological resonance that lifts it above others in this genre. Billingsley’s writing is exquisite and she creates a very interesting and sympathetic heroine, and a sure sense of a creepy yet alluring place, beset by all manner of fairytale creatures. In a fiction market itself swamped by paranormal romance, this book stood out for me as something different, and is a delicious read for 12+.
Bloomsbury, 2011, ISBN 9781408803844