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Daughter of Black Lake: A Novel

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In a world of pagan traditions and deeply rooted love, a girl in jeopardy must save her family and community, in a transporting historical novel by nationally bestselling author Cathy Marie Buchanan.

It's the season of Fallow, in the era of iron. In a northern misty bog surrounded by woodlands and wheat fields, a settlement lies far beyond the reach of the Romans invading hundreds of miles to the southeast. Here, life is simple--or so it seems to the tightly knit community. Sow. Reap. Honor Mother Earth, who will provide at harvest time. A girl named Devout comes of age, sweetly flirting with the young man she's tilled alongside all her life, and envisions a future of love and abundance. Seventeen years later, though, the settlement is a changed place. Famine has brought struggle, and outsiders, with their foreign ways and military might, have arrived at the doorstep. For Devout's young daughter, life is more troubled than her mother ever anticipated. But this girl has an extraordinary gift. As worlds collide and peril threatens, it will be up to her to save her family and community.

Set in a time long forgotten, Daughter of Black Lake brings the ancient world to life and introduces us to an unforgettable family facing an unimaginable trial.

306 pages, Hardcover

First published October 6, 2020

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About the author

Cathy Marie Buchanan

4 books670 followers
New York Times bestseller and book club favourite Cathy Marie Buchanan is the author of three novels.

Her most recent, Daughter of Black Lake, was chosen as a Best Fiction for Fall by Entertainment Weekly and Parade magazine. Her previous novel, The Painted Girls, was a New York Times bestseller, a #1 national bestseller in Canada, and was named a best book of the year by NPR, Good Housekeeping and Goodreads. Her debut novel, The Day the Falls Stood Still, was a New York Times bestseller, a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection and a Canada Reads Top 40 Essential Canadian Novels of the Decade. Her work has been translated into nine languages. Buchanan holds a BSc (Honours Biochemistry) and an MBA from Western University, and recently became a certified yoga instructor. She lives in Toronto.

Connect with Cathy Marie on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/cathymariebuc...) or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/cathymbucha...).

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 239 reviews
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,588 reviews153k followers
December 8, 2020


New Month, New Tierlist BookTube Video is up - click the link to check out my August Reading Vlog!
The Written Review
A small ripple of what felt like hopefulness rose in her chest.
In this book, we follow Devout. She is coming of age in a harsh landscape.

Her world is narrow, and unforgiving. And despite all that, she's finding her place in this world.

And we also follow Hobble.

Hobble's timeline is set seventeen years later (she's the daughter of Devout and...she's hobbled. She limps as she walks but she's bound and determined to NOT be the weakest in the village (cause...apparently that can sometimes get you sacrificed to the Gods).
Both my parents look at me. I know the words they do not speak: For my sake - my security - we will pander and stoop...
Despite her disability, Hobble is the swiftest in the village and the only one who can see visions of the future - sometimes as simple as knowing when to catch a falling bird and others that foretell the coming of the Romans and death to many.

In Hobble's time, there is famine among their people and when a new druid comes to town. A powerful one, who might just spell doom for the entire family.

Hobble will need to keep one step ahead to keep herself and her family safe. Or else.
She life her face to the boundless sky.
This book, it is on the edge of greatness.

I quite liked it - the pacing, the characters and the dark ambiance are all so different from the modern way to tell a story. It sucked me right in.

The way the Pagan ways play out and the druid's influence was also really interesting.

Devout and Hobble were both such compelling main characters and I found myself unable to put down this book. However, I can definitely see it not being for everyone.

There are uncomfortable moments - not full out triggering but made my modern self squirm.

All in all, this one was darkly devastating and completely engaging.

With thanks to Netgalley, Riverhead Books and the author for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Cathy Marie Buchanan.
Author 4 books670 followers
Currently reading
August 30, 2020
I'm not going to review my own novel, but here are some lovely words of support (and if you're sold you can pre-order Daughter of Black Lake):

“Buchanan has crafted an engrossing novel awash in historical atmosphere. From religious beliefs to culture clashes to social stratification and the activities of daily life, Buchanan immerses readers in Roman Britain in this beautifully emotive tale of family, community, and love.”—Booklist, STARRED review

“Buchanan captures in this immersive, supernatural latest the hardships of village life in first-century Britain . . . Buchanan’s descriptions of pagan rituals are fully realized and provide a haunting, engaging backdrop for the two teenage protagonists. Fans of thoughtful, inventive historical fiction will enjoy this transporting novel.” —Publishers Weekly

“In this evocative, meticulously researched novel, Cathy Marie Buchanan creates a world of dark magic and haunting mystery, brutality and beauty. History comes to life on every page.”—Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan Train and The Exiles

"In a tale that feels at once classic and fresh, Buchanan brings her trademark grace and attention to detail to this luminous story of a mother and daughter in first-century Britannia. Daughter of Black Lake is a thoughtful, compelling novel, a true pleasure to read."—Therese Anne Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald and The Good Neighborhood

“Evocative and deftly paced. . . transporting us to a time and place we have not lived, yet somehow recognize. . .A historical page turner that’s the perfect antidote for our uncertain times.”—Brunonia Barry, New York Times-bestselling author of The Lace Reader and The Fifth Petal

"Some books do more than allow us to imagine another place and time. Some, like Daughter of Black Lake, take us there . . . an enchanting read."—Gail Anderson-Dargatz, Internationally bestselling author of The Cure for Death by Lightening and The Spawning Grounds
Daughter of Black Lake by Cathy Marie Buchanan
Profile Image for Annette.
734 reviews314 followers
January 18, 2021
Time period is 1 AD, location is a small settlement in northern Britannia where simple lives come alive with pagan traditions. The author does phenomenal job on transporting a reader to a different time period.

A girl named Hobble, named so as she walks with a limp, is thirteen. Her father is a blacksmith and her mother is a healer. Naturally, following in her mother’s footsteps, she is an apprentice healer. She was also born with a special gift of visions. And in one of her visions, she sees Roman invaders moving northward. But before them, a druid named Fox appears at the settlement, who questions her visionary abilities. Also, as she tries to find out more from her mother about her father and another man her mother loved, the story goes back in time.

As the story goes back in time, it reveals her mother’s story at the same age of thirteen when she joins the Feast of Purification for the first time. Young Smith chooses her above any other maiden at Black Lake and he makes an amulet for her. But there is also Arc who offers her sweet violets she’s been looking for that day. Her thought process and struggle which man she should choose is revealed. This story also brings a time when with heavy rains and wheat rotting famine brings struggle.

As much as I loved the exploration of this long forgotten time period, the pace was a bit too slow. The prose and the characters are interesting, but at the same time I wished there was more sharpness to their characters or the prose to move the story a bit faster.

P.S. Highly recommend The Painted Girls by this author.
Profile Image for Beverley Cooper.
5 reviews4 followers
June 13, 2020
I loved this book. I managed to get my hands on an early copy as I had also really enjoyed this writer's two previous books. I couldn't put it down. The world that CMB creates is full of life and detail. It's a world I didn't know about - the time of the Druids. It's beautifully written, I loved the characters of Hobble and Devout. I loved the story they tell. You know when you look forward to finding that uninterrupted time to spend reading? That's what I felt with this one.
Profile Image for Grazyna Krupa.
1 review1 follower
August 3, 2020
So enjoyed! It's the kind of book that you read and then feel a little smarter, perhaps more enlightened or better informed post read. The world of the layered, resilient and like us, sigh, deeply flawed people of the Bog, resonates today. It is magnificently researched but you don't read the research - you live the tale and enjoy the journey. Smart psychological twists and insights as well, all of it pulled together in a book about yearning, power, lust (great passages) and the complex journey to love and loyalty. Great read!
Profile Image for Pam Jenoff.
Author 28 books4,898 followers
February 22, 2021
This is a unique and fascinating story of a young woman in Iron Age Britain who must use her unique gifts to save her family and community from famine and the outside world.
Profile Image for Cass.
Author 8 books157 followers
April 19, 2020
This is, for the most part, a quiet story that crafts, in great detail, life in pre-Roman/gradually-Romanizing Britain. Buchanan focuses on one village on the outskirts of famous rebellions, a place where life moves at the pace of the seasons. We experience it through the eyes of two women, mother and daughter, as each moves through the at the cusp of girlhood into womanhood. Their unassuming village (in what is now northern Wales, as best I can figure) becomes the unlikely focal point of a tug-of-war between the ancient druidic power structure and the invading, modernizing Romans. The story is brilliantly detailed and the characters compelling, relatable despite how far removed their world (and thus worldview) is from our own.

This book reminded me of Juliet Marillier's Sevenwaters series in some ways, though without the overt dark-fairy-tale quality.
298 reviews5 followers
April 2, 2020
Eerily similar to the plight that we are facing today. . .

While this book was slow in the beginning, around midway it really picked up speed and I am so happy I stuck with it! The pacing was done in a very precise and thoughtful manner. Too much, too soon would have been all wrong for this novel. It was tightly wound and smart.
This book's time period is first century AD. I'm not used to reading books that take place so long ago, but it was certainly enlightening. The story follows a girl named Devout and what happens when her entire community is at risk. Famine was a big issue back then and that is also discussed. There were notes in this book that reminded me of what we are going through now. It was an excellent book and just shows how varied of a writer Buchanan is. Great work!
Profile Image for Kathy.
3,270 reviews172 followers
January 22, 2021
I have not read another book that fully concentrates on the community of "bog people" first century Brittania and I found it interesting and well imagined. The vivid portrayals of Druids as well as the Roman soldiers who could abruptly appear and interfere with their social organization was well done. The story gets confused often, going between a daughter and a mother, so it is not the easiest book to read and I did have to speed through some sections that seemed repetitive.

3.5 stars for me due to my interest in the time period

Library Loan
Profile Image for Nancy.
2 reviews6 followers
August 6, 2020
For me, signs of a good historical fiction
1)I can’t put the book down.
2)I learned something from the story. I want more which leads me to google the time period to do some of my own research.
Cathy Marie Buchanan accomplished these 2 requirements. She transports the reader back to an ancient, secluded community filled with pagan rituals, traditions and magically intersperses some fantasy into her tale.
The story meanders through the past and present lives of two women, mother and daughter. Both very lovable but flawed characters. It is with love, determination, loyalty, twists and turns that we learn of a tumultuous time of yesteryear.
The setting of this book is ancient. However, today many of the same desires resonate...a tranquil life full of love, loyalty of family and help of community.
As an aside, I loved Devout’s and Hobble’s reverence for Mother Earth. As a collective, I am hoping we can revert a little back to this time.
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,168 reviews541 followers
November 18, 2020
Only recommended for the romance YA style prose lover. Characters were developed but too much switching of time periods ruined plotting and the historic. Most especially the Druids power collapse and the intermittent Roman invasions and settlements in Britannia.

There is much repetition. In tasks, in religious devotions, and in the emotive. Also in the kinship or other character context description in their various houses. For that reservation alone my enjoyment level became at the most 2 stars. Bog people had to be more intrepid and less yearning, IMHO. Perhaps I am wrong- but this plot and especially Devout just seem wonky for the physicality and mores of the short life time period of the century after Julius Caesar.
Profile Image for Anne.
64 reviews
August 9, 2020
What a fascinating read! I am a huge CMB fan and an avid reader of historical fiction. Full disclosure-I've never read anything about this period-Druids, bog dwellers, Romans were really not on my radar nor were they of great interest to me. Then I read this book and that all changed. The author's descriptions of the bog dwellers, their rituals and their relationships were so vivid, so real. I read the book in 24 hours and was totally immersed in this strange world. I can't imagine the amount of research the author must have done to write this book. Thank you CMB for another fascinating read!

PS This would be an amazing book club read!
Profile Image for Stacey.
58 reviews
November 29, 2020
Story seemed like it was going to be good but could not connect with the writing style so gave it up.
Profile Image for The Lit Bitch.
1,225 reviews393 followers
October 10, 2020
4.5 star

When this book first came up for review, I simply couldn’t pass it up. I have had The Painted Girls on my TBR since it came out in 2013 so when I saw that this book was by the same author, I knew it was a no brainer….I simply had to read this book!

I love historical fiction and it’s always so hard for me to pass on a historical fiction book because I always enjoy them so much. But sometimes with any genre, it can start to feel stale. Over the years, I have started taking systematic breaks from historical fiction in favor of thrillers or horror just to change things up.

But I always end up back at the genre that I love which is what happened with this one. I knew that it was set more in the ancient Roman world rather than the traditional Tudor, Victorian, or WWII eras that are so popular in historical fiction. That immediately set it apart and I couldn’t wait to check it out!

What I wasn’t expecting from this book was the un-put-down-able-ness of it. This one had a lot of action, heart, and intrigue that held my interest and made me read into the late hours of the night. I haven’t read a ton of historical fiction set during this time and I was absorbed in it and wanting to learn more and more about the time, place, and characters. I really really loved the time period and premise of this one. Not to mention that the author had a wonderful prose and style that also held my interest.

This book wasn’t just about Romans or Roman rule but more about the Druids and the bog dwellers their culture which isn’t a time or period that I know much about so I found this one fascinating for that reason alone but when you add in the elegant story and writing style, then it makes for a total package for me. I also liked that the story focused on the Druid/bog dwellers rather than the Romans which are such a tempting group to write about. Here the author focuses on the untold story of these people sure a time when Christianity and Rome were new to these simple people.

The timeline in this story was well done and mostly easy to follow. There were a couple of times when I either misread or misunderstood something that was happening in the story such as a vision or a memory, but other than that I felt that the pacing and flow of the novel were well executed and enjoyable. I mean I read it in two days so it was definitely enjoyable for me!

While the story, characters, and plot were interesting and help my attention, I think what really shined about this novel was the history and time period. What a different and unique choice! I loved it and thought that fact alone made this book!

I am actually part of a progressive excerpt tour for this book and I am so excited to bring you all a part of this book for your reading pleasure and if you want to read more then be sure to follow along on the tour with all the stops listed below!

See my full review here
1 review
July 23, 2020
Loved this book.
I fully recommend Daughter of the Lake by Cathy Marie Buchanan. I could not put it down and then, I intentionally slowed down because I did not want it to end. I was drawn into an evocative world I knew so little about and yet it resonated with the world we live in now. I was captivated by the characters and the suspense was gripping. It was the time of the Roman Empire but the focus was on a secluded community whose attachment to one another and to nature completely hooked me.
Profile Image for DeB.
952 reviews246 followers
February 19, 2021
As a fan of The Painted Girls, I was excited to find Buchanan’s latest historical fiction novel on the bookshelf. Knowing that she would likely meld authentically historical research in a stylized version unique to her writing, I dove into early Britannia and the “bog people” with enthusiasm.

Buchanan infuses her tale of these early people with a sense of wonderment, living as they did in the most rudimentary and brutal conditions. As Celts, the Druids were their religious leaders, and the polytheistic aspects of the “old ways”, with many gods and goddesses inspired by nature and natural forces play a big role in Daughter of Black Lake.

This community is in the midst of terrific upheaval, with the Romans beginning to encroach upon their remote and up until now, hidden site. Divisions occur, factions emerge and crises develop as the woman Devout and her daughter Hobble, both seers, are caught in the middle.

Devout’s husband, Smith, has a foundry... a “smithy”... his talents inspire part of the love story between himself and Devout, as well as providing a venue to profile the shift in their small society.

Having serendipitously recently viewed “The Dig”, a Netflix movie about a private archeological dig in Britain just as WWII approached, and its discoveries, I found myself reflecting on these same ancient people in Buchanan’s book, the craftsmanship described, the relationships, belief systems and society depicted. Buchanan has ventured into a great deal of the mysticism, given credence to the folklore of the Celts with her story - the “polish” which I attribute to her own style.

A period in history which I’ve read little about - and of which there are few actual records in existence- Buchanan was bold to set a story framed in this time, to try to give it real life.

Four stars.

Profile Image for erin.
90 reviews27 followers
July 20, 2020
Daughter of Black Lake is an atmospheric tale of two women in first century Brittania seeking meaning and companionship in their small, isolated settlement. The chapters alternate between the present-day and the past, following Hobble, a young prophetess who faces the menacing arrival of a devout druid named Fox to Black Lake, and her mother Devout as a teenager who must decide between two men she cares for.

Cathy Marie Buchanan's descriptions of the bog, the fields, and the lake were highly evocative and immersive. The tension from the encroaching Roman invasion acted as a parallel to the tension between old and new within the Black Lake settlement. The novel was sometimes non-linear, with memories and visions interrupting current events in a stream-of-consciousness style. This could be a bit confusing at times, but it did make the characters feel more naturally human.

There was not a strong plot driving the story, as it was more of an exploration of characters and community. I found Hobble's chapters much more compelling than Devout's, especially due to her visions and her disability (the limp that gave her the name 'Hobble'). Devout's chapters fell a bit too into the love-triangle trope for me, but the complex connections she felt with both Arc, her first 'mate,' and Smith, Hobble's father, were fleshed out well.

[3.5/5: Overall, a well-written historical novel with a touch of magic/religion and a distinct setting. It was a bit too meandering for me at times, but readers that enjoy fantastical touches to their historical fiction, enjoy complicated and flawed female characters, or who seek unconventional stories set in late antiquity will find something to enjoy here.]

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Asheley T..
1,273 reviews119 followers
October 19, 2020
Daughter of Black Lake is an immersive, atmospheric story, which is exactly what I was hoping for when I chose to read it. The story is set in the first century AD, during the time when the Romans invaded Britain, or Britannia. I love reading historical fiction stories set in very early times, but I can't say that I've ever read any stories from this exact time and this exact setting. The story is told from the perspectives the people of Britannia as they feared the day the Romans would come to their community prepared to fight.

We hear from both Hobble and her mother Devout. Hobble is a young girl with a limp, hence her name. According to the old ways of her people, sacrifices sometimes must be made to appease the gods, and it was usually the sickest or weakest animal or human in the group. Hobble's walking impediment makes her the obvious choice, if the druids ever decide a human must be sacrificed. In Hobble's POV, we get to see how the community interacts with and fears the instruction of the druid priests, who seem to be direct lines to the gods but often are seen as harsh and demanding.

Devout's POV tells the story of how she came to be married to Hobble's father, Smith. There were very specific circumstances that led up to a marriage match, and a very specific ceremony, and all of this was super interesting to read. There is some tension between Devout and her husband, and the story progresses until we finally get to figure out what happened to make them hold one another at arm's length. In her own POV, Hobble tries to figure out what is going on with her parents, while also trying to balance life in Black Lake with the constant threat of invasion by the Romans.

Early in the story, we find that Hobble and Devout have a magic about them: they are seers. Hobble especially tries to keep her sight a secret, but this is very difficult once Fox the druid priest comes and insists on staying in the family's house. The relationship between Fox and Hobble is very tense throughout the story. I sort of wish there were some chapters from the druid's point of view, because his thoughts must have certainly been quite the opposite of most of the other characters.

I really enjoyed reading this one, from start to finish. The setting was pretty vivid in my mind, and I feel like I got a nice glimpse at how things may have been for those living in the more remote parts of Britannia after the time of Julius Caesar. I loved watching these characters move about in their world, doing each of their day-to-day activities. I anticipated that I would like this one before I ever started it; I found that I liked it more than I imagined I would. It's a little bit dark at times and these characters have a lot of hard choices to make, but all of the vivid details and the resilience of these people make for a great story.

I received a hardcover copy of this book for free from Riverhead Books in exchange for an honest review. These thoughts are my own. Thank you, Riverhead Books!
Profile Image for Serena.
Author 1 book84 followers
October 13, 2020
This mystical tale is woven like a tapestry with each strand hard to hold onto until it comes together with the other colors to create a full scene of village life under the druids and the change that hovers on the horizon under Roman rule. In the backdrop the struggle for power plays out just as it does in the foreground between the Smiths and Hunters where the power shifts from one to the other. Buchanan’s story unfolds in a deliberate way to immerse the reader in this ancient time when even writing was not done and knowledge was passed from person to person. Daughter of Black Lake by Cathy Marie Buchanan is a struggle for survival amid a world of secrets and lies, political gains and losses, and magic.

Full review: https://savvyverseandwit.com/2020/10/...
Profile Image for Stephanie.
1,274 reviews22 followers
October 14, 2020
In Iron Era Briton, the season of Fallow is upon the small community of Black Lake.  The small community works the land, hunts, forges iron, and lives off of the land; protected by and ruled over by their gods.  Sacrificing to them when rain does not stop or fields do not grow is part of their everyday life.  For Devout, Mother Earth is her provider.  Devout came of age that Fallow and is able to seek a mate.  With this comes a choice, mate with Arc, a fellow field hand or a tradesman, Young Smith.  As Devout is choosing, change is coming to Black Lake. A Druid comes to tell of the impending Roman invasion and most of the Smith clan goes to fight.  Seventeen years later, Devout's daughter, Hobble sees the Roman's arrival in one of her visions.  When a druid again shows up to Black Lake, he wants to use Hobble's visions to incite the villagers to fight.

Daughter of Black Lake weaves together the coming of age stories of mother and daughter for an intimate portrait of life within an Iron Age settlement.  The point of view switches between Devout and Hobble as young women giving a progressive view of Black Lake and the people there.  I enjoyed reading about the day to day activities of Black Lake and how much their beliefs in the four gods of Protector, War Master, Begetter, and Mother Earth affected their daily lives.  I was enthralled by Devout's devotion to Mother Earth and the rituals she followed as well as Hobble's gift of sight and how she used it. The writing had immersed me in the lives of the people of Black Lake and their daily struggles and successes.  While they lived a very different life from us, the uncertainties they faced and bonds they made felt very similar to life today.  This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
1 review
September 2, 2020
Cathy Marie Buchanan releases yet another stunning novel! Daughter of Black Lake is set during the Roman Empire’s expansion into what is now known as the British Isles. Buchanan uses magical realism interwoven with historical facts and pagan traditions to paint a vivid picture of life in a Celtic tribe. You will fall in love with her beautifully developed and relatable characters as she draws you in and immerses you deeply into a gripping story of love, loss, and intrigue. Daughter of Black Lake is definitely a must-read.
Profile Image for Robert Blumenthal.
786 reviews66 followers
March 21, 2021
If someone told me about a book that takes place in 1st century Brittania and deals with a group of locals dealing with an invasion by Roman armies trying to expand their empire and it involved all sorts of mysterious supernatural events, I would probably say "thanks, but not interested." Then if that person told me it was written by Cathy Marie Buchanan, I'd say, "well, in that case, hand it on over." Her first two books, both historical fiction, were much more down to earth, the first being about bringing electricity to Niagara Falls. the 2nd about the 14-year old girl who posed for Degas' most famous ballerina sculpture. And so on to Daughter of Black Lake.

Buchanan weaves a tale that circles around 13-years old Hobble, who is the daughter of Devout. The story also includes when Devout was 13 and wanting to find a mate. This tale reveals that she is torn between Arc, a young hunk who would not be a great provider, and Smith, another hunk but the best blacksmith in town. She obviously ends up with Smith who is the father of Hobble. It is also apparent that she is keeping a secret from her husband and daughter.

Meanwhile, in Hobble's world, a Druid has appeared who is trying to inspire the people of this village to rise up and go to battle against the Romans. Hobble, who is prescient, has had visions that the Romans would absolutely slaughter the locals. However, as the Druid points out, the Romans are already seriously abusing the locals, enslaving, raping, and slaughtering them as they wish. So what's a local to do?

The author has done her research, and then some. She depicts this time in ancient England and its inhabitants with great flair. There are some real historical figures here, but most everyone is of her own devising. She tells a wonderful woven tale that is both captivating and moving. The reader really comes to care about these people, and their description reminded me a bit of tales of Native American tribes here in the US. She has shown herself again to be a master of her craft.
Profile Image for Gail.
Author 22 books277 followers
July 18, 2021
Some books do more than allow us to imagine another place and time. Some, like Daughter of Black Lake, take us there. The novel submerges the reader in lush imagery, bringing to life an ancient village on the cusp of change as Roman influence marches steadily towards it, threatening to engulf the community’s beliefs and practices. Buchanan’s meticulous attention to detail and obvious passion for research is evident on every page as she weaves history and an engaging tale together with threads of romance and magic. This is a moving and richly textured story about the many colours of love: passion, yes, but also the enduring love of family, and community. Daughter of Black Lake is an enchanting read.
Profile Image for Mila.
770 reviews66 followers
October 14, 2020
3,5 stars

Even though I appreciated the unique setting and time period of the novel and the writing was quite lovely, the plot let me down around the middle. Plus the two perspectives became too repetitive for my taste, and the ending could've been better as well.
Profile Image for Sarah-Hope.
1,031 reviews77 followers
September 14, 2020
I requested an ARC of Daughter of Black Lake because I loved the author's first novel, The Painted Girls. In other words, I went into reading Daughter of Black Lake with a lot of assumptions. The first part of my reading process was disappointing because for the most part I was letting go of those assumptions and embracing the book for what it is. Once I embraced the book for what it is, I found it a deeply engaging read: one of those "just one more chapter" books that leave once exhauted and bleary-eyed the next morning.

Daughter of Black Lake is set in Britain during the Roman occupation. The Romans aren't much of a presence around Black Lake, a tiny hamlet perched at the edge of a bog, but the knowledge that they could appear at any moment shapes much of the narrative. Some people in Black Lake see the occupation as an opportunity: to learn new skills, to move beyond their old boundaries, and to make money. Others see the occupation as a threat to their entire lifeway, which is shaped by by Druid beliefs and practices.*

Hobble, the book's central narrator, is simultaneously less-than and more-than those she lives with. As her name suggests, she disabled, though not significantly. She walks with a limp, but her father has taught her her to run, and she's a swift as anyone else just a bit more ungainly. And in this Druid world, where the runts and imperfect animals are chosen for sacrifice, disability puts one at specific risk: there haven't been any human sacrifices in a generation, but those with weaknesses know that, if that changes, they may be the ones paying with their lives. At the same time, Hobble is a Seer. She'll be stopped in her tracks by a flash of blinding white light only she can see, then finds herself viewing images of some future event or location. This is primarily a pragmatic skill: she knows where clusters of mushrooms grow hidden, she easily collects plants for her work as a healer, she sometimes plays with her friends telling them where they'll find a particular stone or other item. But Hobble can't choose what she'll see or when she sees it, so when others want her to use this gift for a specific purpose, she can't.

Smith and Devout, Hobble's parents, have a relationship at once loving and distant. They hold secrets from one another, and neither fully knows the other. With her gifts, Hobble sees each of them more clearly than they see the other, but Hobble's understanding of their relationship remains incomplete.

The plot is moved along by the arrival of a Druid priest determined to inspire the villagers to a final uprising against the Romans. He's keeping a close eye on Hobble and her family, who can't be sure whether this attention reflects respect for her gift or disdain that might lead to Hobble being seen as a candidate for sacrifice.

What I particularly enjoyed about this novel is the way the two narratives—Hobble's growing understanding of her parents and the tensions the Druid's presence creates in Black Lake—play out in tandem, making the book simultaneously mythic and very human in scale.

I strongly recommend this title, which rewards readers on multiple levels. You may find the start a bit slow, but trust that you'll be caught up in the novel's tale and characters if you just keep reading.

I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley. The opinions are my own.

*(Note: I know next to nothing about the actual Druid faith and Druid practices. Buchanan clearly did due diligence in depicting this world, but I can't tell you how well her depiction lines up with historical reality. If you've read this book and know more than I do about historical Druid identity, please leave a comment. I'd love to read your thoughts.)
Profile Image for BreeAnn (She Just Loves Books).
1,380 reviews102 followers
October 17, 2020
This book had a great mix of dark ambiance, detailed research, and wonderful characters! I was sucked in on page one, and I’m not exaggerating.

This is a historical fiction with some fantasy elements. I loved that one of the main characters has visions of the future, but is physically flawed. She is considered of little value to her town because of her leg, and yet her visions are a secret that is so valuable.

The two main characters are Hobble and Devout, a mother and daughter. I was connected to both of them- and enjoyed their individual struggles. The community’s thoughts and actions are set in such a long-ago time, and yet there were many aspects that resonated with today’s world.

The world-building was fabulous. I felt like the descriptions created this rich setting for the characters to live in. I haven’t read a book about Druids before, and I found it so interesting. It was filled with details that gave such an in-depth understanding of the period. It felt real, and I loved it!

Overall, I was deeply invested in this book. The characters were wonderful, the setting was created beautifully, and the story was perfect! This is one to add to your TBR!

To Read or Not To Read:
I would recommend Daughter of Black Lake for readers that enjoy learning about a new time in history as well as a bit of a magical element.

I was provided a gifted copy of this book for free. I am leaving my review voluntarily.
Profile Image for Monica Hills.
796 reviews17 followers
December 22, 2021
I love the time period and the setting. This book alternated between Hobble and her mother Devout. Living on a small remote settlement in 1st century Britain, this was the story of what their life was like as they had to worry about Romans and their own Druid leaders. I really enjoyed the story and learning more about these early people. The only reason I did not give this a 5 is the ending left me with unanswered questions. The imagery and writing was really well done.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
1,544 reviews76 followers
January 14, 2022
An absolutely fascinating read that held me enthralled throughout it. I loved the characters, the Iron Age setting, the descriptions of every day life and hardships in Britannia, and the atmosphere. It was incredibly well researched, and inventive. I’d had no idea that Druid’s, romans, and smithery would appeal to me so much, but here we are. I loved it all.

Holly Linneman Is the wonderful narrator for the audiobook version of this novel. I’d never heard her narrate before, but I’m definitely going to find more of her work now.

4 stars, and very recommended.
Profile Image for Amy Poirier.
314 reviews2 followers
August 19, 2020
I'm a total geek for this historical period! Daughter of Black Lake takes place during the First Century A.D.; the time of Roman invasion and occupation in Britain. What I love about this book, though, is that it's told from the point of view of bog dwellers instead of a Roman.

The title may be dark and the times tumultuous, but my takeaway was a message of hope, love, and community before ambition. There was an optimism about new Roman advancements. This was a time to question Druid leadership and the 'old ways'. Leadership and values play a large role in the development of the story and the characters. It's a fascinating time when a mingling of societies can become something new and better.

Best of all, however, are the characters. The story follows two people. Hobble is the main character. She's got a hip placement issue that gives her her name, and she's a Seer. She's also a child at the cusp of adulthood, and she's questioning the world around her. Her mother's story gives us insight into their changing world by taking us back to her life at approximately the same age that Hobble is now. It's bittersweet and lovely. Life is hard, but the people are tender, and the customs are beautiful.

Four enthusiastic stars for giving me the warm and fuzzies while also providing a history lesson. Love it!
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