Daughter of Black Lake: A Novel

Written by Cathy Marie Buchanan
Review by J. Lynn Else

Britain, first century AD. Hobble lives in a secluded community. Years ago, her grandfather and uncles went off to battle the invading Romans, and they never returned. So when a druid priest arrives stirring up ideas of rebellion, Hobble’s family lives in fear. Hobble was born with a disability, making her the most likely to be sacrificed for the gods’ favor. But she possesses a rare gift, the ability to see visions. When she foresees the slaughter of their people, the priest becomes even more zealous in his call to arms and accuses Hobble of deceit. Additionally, Hobble’s mother hides a secret, one that could shatter their family more swiftly than any Roman sword.

The age of the druids comes alive as told through the eyes of a mother, named Devout, and her daughter, Hobble. The narratives poignantly recount how each woman’s generation has been affected by Roman rule. Perception heavily influences character choices. Named for her limp from a birth deformity, Hobble is never ashamed of who she is but instead finds ways to prove herself capable, including in the healing arts. While there are horrible stories of what Romans have done enslaving their people, the actions of a few are not the sole narrative. Romans bring with them sturdy roads, new business, stone construction, and written language. The old ways would sacrifice Hobble for being a runt, causing her family to re-evaluate what the druids fight to preserve. Impactful themes about the power of change enrich the novel.

At times, the non-linear writing style gets confusing. Flashbacks occur in the midst of active conversations before circling back in the following section. However, the characters and their community truly shine. This is a story of a culture finding ways to preserve what’s most important while facing an uncertain future. Recommended.