The Daughter of Ibany by Melissa Bateman
Length: 303 pages
Recommended reader age: Adult
Publisher: Church Farm Books 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
About the author:
Melissa Bateman is an English author, book lover and baking enthusiast. Born in rural Kent in the late 1980’s, she shared adventures with her sister and her favourite farm cat, Tink.
Her hobbies include cinema trips, baking, seeing stand up comedy shows and watching historical and natural world documentaries, especially David Attenborough.
She discovered her love of writing at school and has long had a love for visiting historical houses and castles to see the homes of her favourite historical figures.
You can read more about her in an interview by Katie Ginger.
Merek Family: Lord Henry married Elayna Merek to become lord. Had 2 children, Edward and Thea
Rowan Family: Lord Francis and his wife Jane, daughter Isabella engaged to Edward
Royal Family: King William with daughter Andrea and son Marcus (married to Beth Dalton)
Dalton Family: Lord Arthur and wife Lara who have 3 children, Isaac, Joseph and Elizabeth (Beth)
Noah Thomas: Squire and close friend of the Merek family
Sophie: Thea’s maid and friend since childhood
Plot summary, spoiler free I promise:
We begin with an introduction to Noah, and through him a description of the Vale of Ibany, ruled by the Merek family for generations. Through his arrival at Castle Walstall we are introduced to the Merek family and the marriages that are proposed for both Edward and Thea.
We learn more about life and the inner relationships within the castle through the eyes of Edward, and learn more about his personality and ability to wind up his sister. Switching to Thea’s point of view we learn of her secret practice with both sword and bow, as well as the dark prophecy told to her by her mother. The novel continues in this manner, with a changing narrator bringing the characters and their emotions to life.
As the story continues we see how woven together the families are by marriage, and learn about the history of Ibany and the folk tale that may prove key to the dark prediction made by Thea’s mother.
Through heartbreak, childbirth, betrayal and anger we follow the story of Thea as she journeys far from her homeland with nothing but the haunting words of her mother and her own feelings to guide her.
I really enjoyed this read, historical novels are a genre I read relatively often and the use of prophecies and whispers of magical abilities made this stand out for me.
I was hooked from the beginning with the poetic description of Elmn and Ibany, as well as the way in which Noah and the Merek family were introduced which left me with a load of questions and a desire to know more about each character. Plus the dogs featured are GREYHOUNDS and a BLACK LABRADOR which are my favourite dog breeds and immediately made me love this book (don’t judge), plus there are beautiful sounding horses which are another love of mine.
I also really liked the descriptions throughout, I am a huge fan of food that sounds tasty and this book did not let me down! There were also a lot of brief descriptions around clothing, dressing and the surroundings which went above the minimum needed to create the scene, but really bought the imagery of the novel to life. There was a good flow too between past events and those unfolding in the present, even when the pace or feeling of the times were totally different.
I loved the characters for the most part, I struggled a little with the abrupt change in Thea at various points and did feel that actions she took were a little too far out of character for her, although with the events and the mindset of the past maybe I am being a little harsh. I also guessed at events and changes that would take place very early on and was slightly disappointed that they occurred how I thought, although the truth behind why was certainly different.
I struggled too with the ending as it all worked out a little too well for my taste, but I am cruel at heart and dislike happy endings no matter the events leading up to them. Don’t let this dissuade you from reading though, this really was an excellent book, I am just picky.
Recommended for anyone that likes historical novels and wants a twist on the usual “girl gets married and loses family home” scenario.
“…but the gift that let Ibis cast those spells so long ago has long disappeared – lost due to generations of disuse. But nevertheless, the magic that bound her family to this land remains. It is in the very soil that we sow, the very air we breathe, and the mountains that surround us.”