"Mae never asked to be craft-born. She never wanted that burden."
I’ve never been massively into fantasy. For whatever reason, the clichés of the genre, the witches and wizards, mythical creatures and medieval settings have always put me off. Recently though, I’ve been looking to change that, and, as an introduction to the genre, I can’t recommend White Hart enough.
Our main character Mae, a peasant girl, is the Craft-Born, the only person left in the world who still has magic flowing in their veins. It has been decried that the craft born must marry Prince Casimir and use her powers to fuel the royal palace and provide magic to the kingdom.
Not wanting to bear such responsibility, Mae hides her gifts, but when another girl Ellen, claims to be the Craft-Born, the prince visits Mae’s village.
Things go south when bandits attack the village and Mae and Casimir must head into the mysterious Waerg woods in a revenge fuelled rescue mission.
The main body of the story sees Mae and Casimir travelling through the forest to rescue Ellen and details the creatures they meet along the way. These sections can get fairly repetitive, essentially boiling down to the characters meeting the creatures, being attacked and Mae saving the day until they meet the next beast down the line. However, the monsters in the forest and the interactions between the characters are interesting enough that reading through it never feels like a chore.
Mae herself is a brilliant character and it’s good to see such a strong female cast as the lead in a genre that’s generally considered pretty sexist. Her developing romantic interest with Casimir is a little predictable but is actually handed really well, her feelings evolve incredibly slowly as the book progresses and it feels like a realistic relationship.
The writing style is accessible and straight forward, providing enough detail of the world for the reader to get their bearings, but never bogging you down with so much that it hinders the story’s progression.
The main characters are all enjoyable, three dimensional and I changed my opinion on pretty much all of them as the book progressed and their characters grew.
The plot, while simple, is engaging, you always want to know what’s going to happen next, though I would have preferred if the conclusion wrapped things up a little more. That said, the cliff hanger is gripping and does a good job of making you want to dive straight into the next book in the series, though if you’re not wanting to commit to a whole series straight away, you might be disappointed as this in no way works as a self contained story.
Hardcore fantasy fans, used to twenty book series with enough lore to fill an encyclopaedia may find White Hart to be a little simplistic, but if you’re new to the genre like myself, it’s an easy and enjoyable read that does a good job of easing you in to a genre that can, to an outsider, seem imposing.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to the next book in the series.
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review