The Soul Thief

Written by Cecelia Holland
Review by Ilysa Magnus

Holland has done it again. Spanning centuries and ages in her twenty-three historical novels, Holland here meets the tenth century head-on in this engrossing and entertaining first volume of an anticipated five-part series.

Corban and Mav are twins cut out of one piece of cloth. Their souls are inextricably connected, facilitated by Mav’s second sight. After their family is killed and their farm in coastal Ireland is destroyed by Viking invaders, Mav is taken off into slavery or worse. It is then that Corban faces his fears, beginning a journey of self-discovery which, he hopes, will result in his finding and freeing Mav. From Dublin to Jorvik, across raging seas, facing starvation, capture and death, Corban grows from a meek young boy to a powerful, insightful and clever man. In his travels, Corban learns that Mav has been bought by the Lady of Hedeby, who, recognizing the power which the twins share–a power the Lady intends to use to expand her authority beyond Hedeby–intends to lure Corban into her trap.

Holland draws historical personages, like Eric Bloodaxe and his witch-wife, Gunnhild, beautifully, while a fine layer of the supernatural overlays the entire story. The villagers of Jorvik, common people struggling to survive, are paid the attention they are due by this remarkable writer. You cannot come away from The Soul Thief without a finer understanding of both the fragility of life and the resiliency of the human spirit. I can’t wait for the next volume in this series!