Longbow Girl

Written by Linda Davies
Review by Anne Clinard Barnhill

This is a story of Merry Owen of Wales, who must travel back in time in order to save her family’s heritage and their home. Merry is the latest in a long line of Owens that stretches back to 1356, when the Black Prince gave Merry’s ancestor the 500 acres her family still holds. This rich reward was due to Merry’s ancestor’s skill with the longbow, a skill the family still cultivated as part of the pact with the Black Prince: the Owens family had to be constantly on alert, ready to defend the monarch at any moment.

Merry was the oldest of two children and, though she was a girl, it fell to her to uphold the family duty and honor. She’d trained with the longbow since she was five. Little did she know everything she loved would depend on her skill.

The adventure begins when Merry is riding the wild lands of Wales near her home. She and her pony, Jacintha, discover an ancient chest and, inside, a book that looks quite old—old enough to be valuable and perhaps save the family home, which is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Of course, if the Owens’ family land becomes available, the de Courcys will happily swoop in to buy it. The de Courcys are aristocrats who own the many thousands of acres surrounding the Owens’ property, and they’ve been after it for generations.

Weaving together Welsh legends, time travel, the bonds of friendship and the danger of discovery, Davies presents a tapestry sure to delight any reader age 12 and up. What makes this story even better is that Merry is not a perfect girl; she has only one eye, due to an accident, and she has a knack for disobeying rules and taking chances. Her courage and spunk are admirable.