Saturday 20 August 2016

REVIEW: The Scribe's Daughter by Stephanie Churchill

The Scribe's DaughterThe Scribe's Daughter by Stephanie Churchill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With The Scribe's Daughter, Stephanie Churchill gives us the foundations for a compelling fantasy series, with a sassy, engaging heroine.

The book is written in first person, from the perspective of young Kassia, who becomes embroiled in all manner of political intrigues, fights and flights from pursuits, as the novel progresses. There is a lot of action with Kassia's backstory slowly revealed as the plot unfolds. The world that Churchill has built is believable and interesting, though I have to admit, I don't really understand the creation of a different world where nothing is substantially different from a pseudo-medieval Europe. If there is no magic or dragons or something else that doesn't exist on Earth, why not set it in the real world at some interesting point in history? This felt at times like historical fiction masquerading as fantasy, or perhaps vice versa. Having said that, the setting did not detract from the story or my enjoyment of the book, and Churchill has created a rich world, with a real sense of realism.

The plot trips along at a fair old pace, with Kassia being confronted with one obstacle after another. Churchill's writing is excellent, with many an elegant turn of phrase. The writing seemed to get more assured and the characters stronger in definition as the book progressed, but speaking from my own experience of writing, I think that is often the case with debut novels.

The Scribe's Daughter is a great debut from a very talented new author. The story is fast-paced and exciting, with enough twists and turns to keep readers entertained, but Stephanie Churchill's outstanding achievement is her protagonist, Kassia, a heroine with a uniquely sarcastic and lively voice who you will root for and feel like you know after the first few pages of the novel.

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