Book Review: DAUGHTER OF BLACK LAKE brings family drama to the Iron Age

I listened to Daughter of Black Lake by Cathy Marie Buchanan recently and quite enjoyed it.

I was drawn to this story mostly by the setting, the concept of a fiction set in Iron Age Britain. Daughter of Black Lake is not a military story of Romans and druids and seething tribesmen, although these devices make their appearances throughout the story. Instead, this is essentially a family drama that switches point of view between a daughter and her mother as a girl, whose lives and those of the people of their village are intertwined across generations.

This POV switching feels unexpected at first, but you quickly settle into the differing viewpoints between Hobble and her mother, Devout, even though Devout is narrating a decade or more in the past.

They each tell their versions of events impacting their family, with Hobble able to “see” more than most people know. She is gifted as a seer.

The story follows them both as Devout comes to find love and choose her mate, and as Hobble learns the dangers that outside influences can have on her quiet village of bog-dwellers. This back-and-forth narrative is a really interesting way to see characters interact across generations, first as children and adolescents interacting with each other or their elders, and then as adults, trying their best to help their families and their village survive.

The setting is vivid with pre-Roman and pre-Christian rites, prayers, social structures, and behaviors that guide each character’s decisions. These traditions are then thrown into conflict with the encroachment of Roman soldiers into the region, whose very presence, though distant, hangs over the bog-dwellers as an ominous threat to their way of life.

Although I typically don’t get into village drama-style narratives, I enjoyed the story for what it was. The characters were well written and distinguished, and the story was compelling. Mostly, I just wanted to spend time in the boggy village of Black Lake. Buchanan’s description give just enough detail to paint a clear picture, and her world felt entirely accurate, even as an astute reader questions how much we really know about the traditions and beliefs of pre-Roman Britons.

I would definitely pick up another book by Buchanan set in the same era, regardless of the plot, just to be able to step back into this world.

Steve D

BLOODLINE and Flat Characters

Netflix’s original series Bloodline finally crossed my radar a few weeks ago when my sister was in town. I ended up watching about 4 episodes of the first season with her as she prepared for the release of season 2.

I re-watched season 1 in its entirety after she left, because I can’t just leave a story unfinished – that’s ludicrous! I’ve now started season 2, and I’m not sure if I’m going to finish it. Spoiler Alert – I’m going to discuss season 1’s events freely, but I’ll leave out season 2 since I’m only on episode 3 or 4.

Continue reading “BLOODLINE and Flat Characters”

Gut Reaction: THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir

I just finished reading Andy Weir’s The Martian. Overall, I enjoyed this compelling story. The story follows Mark Watney, an astronaut left on Mars after his crew had to abort their mission, assuming he was dead, and with no other options. Continue reading “Gut Reaction: THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir”