Brightfall by Jaime Lee Moyer (book review).

October 24, 2019 | By | Reply More

‘Brightfall’ is a story of witches, fae folk and evil. It’s also about Maid Marian and Robin of Sherwood, long after the outlaw years.

Times have changed. Robin has taken himself to a monastery. Marian looks after their boy and girl twins. She found happiness with Will Scarlett but bad things are coming and Will is dead. Evil is in Sherwood and Tuck comes to her to help find the source. She’s a wise woman, sometimes called a witch. It’s one of the reasons that Robin has turned to God.

Marian has help from him, albeit reluctantly. After all, he’s the finest bowman and erstwhile defender of the poor. He’s been prized from his niche in the monastery and none too pleased. It seems earthly concerns do not touch him, even the deaths of his former Merrie Men. He’s even more indignant when Marian enlists the help of the Fae as they set off to Nottingham uncovering the source of all the misery.

Using established and recognisable characters, Jaime Lee Moyer has woven a fantastic and enchanting tale of folk and faery with an edge. Power both physical and spiritual is important as differing sets of beliefs clash with religion versus magic and the vulnerability of humans as playthings of would-be gods.

Beset with danger, Marian must manage Robin and call on all her power to untangle spells and avoid traps. She is powerful but cannot work alone. She must remain grounded, even while Robin reaches for the spirit in the sky. She believes his life of seclusion is simply an evasion of whatever wrongs he may have done. All will eventually be revealed in a moving showdown between human and magic.

It’s beautifully done with an enjoyable plot and relatable characters. There is sadness, grief, anger, even joy and all the ingredients necessary for a wild wood adventure. It is full of descriptive passages and believable dialogue without a ‘verily’ or ‘prithee’ in sight. The cast of characters all introduce traits of behaviour and are relatable.

My favourite version of the Robin Hood myth is still the Disney cartoon from 1973. What can I say, I’m a purist. This, of course, is nothing like that and has more in common with Neil Gaiman’s ‘Stardust’ type mythology. The similarities are that the characterisations stick with you as you spend a few hours in their company and create a little oasis of joy in a bleak world.

The setting within the forest works on the idea of a lost past which was simpler albeit full of fear of the supernatural vein running through the woods. Love and grief and forgiveness are key and although this is a faery story there is something to ponder on in our journey through those wild woods of life.

Sue Davies

October 2019

(pub: Jo Fletcher Books/Quercus, 2019. 308 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £18.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-7874-921-0

pub: Jo Fletcher Books/Quercus. 308 page hardback. Price: £18.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78747-920-3)

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Category: Books, Fantasy

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