The Merlin of the Oak Wood

Written by Ann Chamberlin
Review by Ilysa Magnus

The second in the Joan of Arc Tapestries series, Oak Wood is a well-researched novel in which Chamberlin masterfully interweaves elements of the historical and the fantastic. Set in the years 1425 through 1428, when Jehannette d’Arc becomes aware that she is La Pucelle, the book brings to life the brutality and magic of the times. Chamberlin excels in describing Jehannette’s metamorphosis from a simple, country maiden into the Daughter-God/warrior woman whom prophecy has foretold will lead the French in battle.

Certainly, fantastical elements are everywhere, but Jehannette’s Voices are the stuff of legend and our collective unconscious, so we don’t think of the Voices as fantasy. Chamberlin draws us into the Celtic/Druidic mysteries of life, and there the fantastical elements take shape and begin to determine Jehannette’s choices. She is Christian, no doubt, but, as her people are instilled with the mystical teachings and practices of ages long past, so is she. Jehannette is a miraculous combination of all those elements, with Chamberlin’s expert tailoring. Angel, witch or savior, La Pucelle has never been so real, so accessible as she is here.