If you are our Heroine Leigh Wells, you need quite a bit. You’ve been called back to your ancestral island home, far flung from the wild shores of Scotland. World War Two did not hit your home directly, but it stole many young men and sent very few back home. The few that returned are not who they once were. The island is not what it once was. The Sluagh (sloo-ah) still return every October, but every year they come back wilder.
The Sluagh. familiar spirit of Gaelic folklore, manifest themselves here as crows. Not just any crows, these crow are enormous and bloodthirsty. The island’s dwindling inhabitants brace themselves every year with rites and rituals: offerings are burnt, charms are hung, and windows are boarded over- but since the war, the restless spirits have become even more restless.
The lost spirits of the Sluagh, the missing boys of the island, and those who were left behind.
lain picked at a hole in the blanket covering Leigh’s knees, the thread unravelling between his fingers. He said, “I think probably we should all stop punishing ourselves for the things we did or didn’t do.”
Leigh may feel left behind in many ways, but she returns to The Wild Hunt as the prodigal daughter after scraping by in the “big city” of the mainland for several miserable years. She’s not alone in her misery; families are fractured, farms are failing, and the old gods are creeping into the new.
This book had be in it’s claws from page one. I could not set it down. I was drawn in by the mythology and the minutia. I was drawn in by hidden ancient temples and stockings that were more darning than stocking. I could taste the cold salt wind and feel the frightening beat of feathered wings. This was a one-day read, but a several-week thought process. I already have a “waiting list” of folks waiting to dive in next.
In the words of many a doomed soldier (written with aching sincerity by Seckel):
What a grand adventure we had together.
Bingo Category: BIRD! Actual birds feature here, as well as many an “albatross” around one’s neck. If you need to check some boxes, you could also read this for Shadow, Cold, Rec’d, Monster, New, or Time!
I received this ARC from the Tin House Galley Club in exchange for a fair and honest review