Set in Britain circa 650 AD, Katy Moran’s debut novel is a coming-of-age story featuring a boy named Essa who is caught in the middle of two warring kingdoms when he is abandoned by his father, Cai, a traveling bard and double-agent spying for both the Mercians and the Wolf Folk. Left on his own with the Wolf Folk, Essa forges new friendships while struggling to discover not only who, but what, he is. Half British and half Anglish, he is the “son of no tribe, child of no kingdom.”
But Essa possesses great gifts: heightened intuition and the ability to enter the minds and eyes of animals, which saves him on more than one occasion. Destiny gives him the leading role in the fateful final battle between the Mercians and the Wolf Clan; a battle that is at once realistically gory and beautifully wrought. In Essa the author creates a complex and satisfying teen: angry, sullen, questioning and brave. Hi s relationship with birds, dogs, and horses is wonderfully written and utilized to the fullest potential in the development of the plot. Although the ending is satisfying, there are enough loose ends to keep readers hungry for the next title in the trilogy. The publisher has provided a map of 7th-century Britain to help readers visualize Essa’s landscape; a wise decision, as I found myself referring to it repeatedly. Highly recommended.
Early Medieval (to 1337)