Author: Anne Bishop | Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
For years the realm of Terreille has been falling into corruption, as the powerful Queens who rule it turned to cruelty.
But there is hope. A prophetic vision has revealed the coming of a Queen more powerful than any before. And once the foundations of her power – father, brother, lover – are in place, she will emerge from the darkness, bringing freedom.
For she is the living myth, dreams made flesh. Not just any witch, but Witch.
I should say right up front, while there were many, many things I liked about Daughter of the Blood, I won’t be reading the sequel. Ultimately, it was just a bit too dark and disturbing for me…
The story itself is action-packed, fast-paced, and well plotted. It was gripping, tense, with plenty of horrifying surprises to keep you on the edge of your seat.
The characters were interesting and had a depth of back story which drove the book. What was also interesting about the characters was the lack of “good” and “bad”; not a single one could be described as solely hero or villain. Everyone was painted in shades of grey. The lack of solid moral ground should have made the characters, and the stage they inhabit, less likeable. Perhaps it did at times. However, it also made them feel intensely “real”. It challenged the reader’s perception of right and wrong, and any sense of moral absolutism you might have gone in with was sorely perplexed by the end of the book.
I admired the robust feminism of the world Anne Bishop created, where the women are the ruling class, in many ways the stronger sex, and men have been relegated to a sort of useful servant status. Not to say there aren’t powerful men in her world, but the women are front and centre. What could have been an overly simplistic vision was somewhat nuanced, as, just like in our own world, there’s plenty of scheming and just as many “bad guys” at the top as the bottom. As much as I liked this complicated take on modern feminism, there was a clear divide between the genders in the book: men do “this”, look like “this”; women like “this”. And in today’s world, I’m not sure that has any place anymore. It was nuanced, but could have been even more so.
I found the plot and worldbuilding confusing at first. It wasn’t sufficiently explained or demonstrated, and, while the key at the start of the book was helpful, a map would have been good. However, I went with it and I think by the end had a clear enough idea of what was going on. I enjoyed the sense of place throughout, and, while this was clearly a world in chaos, it was still one I’d like to visit.
If some of the character names and tropes were a little obvious, I didn’t mind that. I like a little bit of cheese in my fantasy.
Having said all of that, you’re probably wondering why I won’t be reading the sequel…
What surprised me about the book was the overtly sexual nature of… well, pretty much everything! I don’t mind a bit of romance, but literally everything in the book had undertones of sex. The men are enslaved by their genitalia (cue sniggering), their role in society is to serve women as sex slaves or “consorts”, another of the main characters is a prostitute, and two of the other characters are paedophiles… None of which was subtle. And all of this is going on in a setting where the protagonist is a little girl… In fact, while I don’t like to use the word, I think a lot of people would find this book triggering. It’s quite violent, which would have been fine, but combine that with graphic sex scenes, and multiple scenes of rape, incest, and child abuse… I found it all faintly distasteful, and not a little disturbing.
I think the most disturbing part of the book was watching one of the characters try to control his feelings for the little girl… And I mean one of the characters who is not classed as an out and out paedo… Rather, it’s phrased as he likes who she will become and tries desperately not to be attracted to her as a child, but, considering at one point he has to seduce her in order to give her the will to live, I found the whole thing very troubling. How is that better?
I could have dealt with the storylines about rape and incest and all the rest, and the rather bizarre and overly sexualised worldbuilding. But having one of the protagonists lust after a ten year old, and this be excused because he says, “I’ll just wait till she’s older”, was too much for me. I’m out. That’s just wrong.