My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“Some folks are forced to the edges by their difference. (...) But 'tis at the edges that they find their power.”
This book reminds me so much of "The Wonder" by Emma Donoghue, so if you were a fan of that one you will love this one as well! This one is set in 1820s Ireland, where the author is extremely well-researched into the Irish folklore, various superstitions, and herbal treatments that these village people believe in. The book opens with the death of our protagonists husband on a stormy foreboding night. Nora's deep down in the hole of grief and so she decides to hire a nanny to the grandson that was misplaced under her roof.
Except there may be whisperings that this boy is a changeling-not fully a human, since he often have fevers or seizures and is a sickly child. So Nora enlists the help of Nance, a magic "healer" who's hated by most of the villagers but is said that she can save Michael from his evil sickness. The book then embarks on a twisted path that is fascinating to watch play out, because you know what could inevitably happen, but the road to the ending conclusion is what makes it worth the read.
The atmosphere, a sense of time and place, is a feeling that's so thick that you could almost palpably touch it. That was definitively Kent's strong point, having a detailed description of the settings-not too overboard, not lacking-just striking that perfect balance in between. This is something that I always appreciated in a literary story that is so focused on the base of history.
There's also a deep dive into the contrast between folklore and the law of the land, what people believe in vs. what they see, which makes me genuinely enjoy the book even more. For me, the only reason why it wasn't a memorable favorite is because the middle part of the book dragged so slowly, that I began to count the times that I was actually yawning. Hint: it was a lot, and almost put me off of finishing this story, which would have been unfortunate.
**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**
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