This post is going to be a lot shorter than normal, hence the nature of a mini book review. It’s not that I don’t have enough to say about this book…it’s more that I have TOO MUCH to say about this book, and all my points are predominantly focused on my personal research. So, I’m going for a minimalist approach, steering clear of gritty analysis and just highlighting my main points which will hopefully give credit to just how special this book is.
‘So Caer Wiell put off its mourning in the spring. The stones remained, and the grass grew and the flowers bloomed, violets and rue. And vines twined in the wood, among the forgotten bones.’
I should start by saying that the author’s style of writing is not for everyone. Due to the huge focus on folklore style and structure as well as a utilisation of Celtic, Welsh and Old English words, the novel is not the easiest read. For a reader skilled in languages this may not be a problem, but if you’re like me, you may find it hard to connect with the ancient tongue. But this is the nature of my research so I had to persevere and I am SO GLAD I did.
Here are 5 reasons why The Dreaming Tree was such an epic tale:
- It pulls you into an area of Faery which is simultaneously new and ancient; Cherryh’s world building is first class. She manages to establish Eald as though it is both a real place in the present world and a place that is so old it drips with history. Ealdwood is alive with magic, each thing has a voice and thoughts and a past life. It’s description is so visceral that it manifests in the deepest pits of our imagination, and yet it is also so difficult for the human mind to grasp.
- There isn’t just one hero. From the saviour which is Cearbhallain to Lord Ciaran, each hero takes us on a journey of sacrifice, nobility, vulnerability and love. Though this may be an intimidating number of characters to deal with each character naturally moves on to the next. None are perfect, which is what makes them even more believable.
- Arafel is a Faery like no over; she’s strong, dedicated, empathetic and so much more.
- The Old tongue is actually really beautiful to read when you get the hang of it; words like Daione Sidhe, Fuatha, Pooka, Sgeulaiche and Gruagach add another layer of magic to the writing that the word ‘faery’ doesn’t quite manage.
- The plot isn’t predictable, it keeps you guessing right until the end. This enables you to follow each hero on their personal journey and feel an equal sense of relief and victory when they come to the end.
‘Voices seemed to carry all too clearly and the night was listening […] It was old, this place. Legend said so, but more, he felt it in his bones, that the lake was no wholesome plane. He thought of water-horses, of selkies and such like: if there was ever a place where a fuath might like it was Lioslinn, among the reefs and moss. There might be shellycoats and bogles, to come ratting out of the bog with reaching fingers.’
If you like folktales and fairytales you will unquestionably love this book!
Copyright: Laura Davis © 2018, all rights reserved.