Book Review: Sisters at the Edge of the World, by Ailish Sinclair

At Stane Hame, a first-century tribal village near Cullykhan Bay in Scotland, Mooragh, spiritual leader of the Caledonia tribe known as the Taezali, worships at the standing stone–the place where she hears the Goddess.* They communicate with visions: Mooragh is mute. She is also young–perhaps in her teens. Far too young to be a spiritual leader some might say, yet her visions are sure and reliable. She is keeper of the old ways, seer of the future.

The Hanging Stone at Cullykhan Bay (photo by Ailish Sinclair)

Beyond the stone Gaius watches. A spy for the Sons of Mars, he and his fellow soldiers are camped nearby. They have come from a place called Rome, camped in great number some distance away. Thousands of them, housed in tents that spread as far as one can see. They are heavily armed. Their ferocity and ruthlessness are legend, and now they come to rid Scotland of the Caledonian people and take it for themselves.

When Morragh sees Gaius, she believes he is the God and for the first time, she speaks.

Who would have thought that my silence would ever come to an end, let alone in such a glorious and loud way. At first I sing. I sing to Him. It is so easy. It just flows out of me. The tales of my life become music. The wonderment of the world is song. The delight in the curve of a leaf and the swoop of a bird in flight make bright notes in my throat. I have sung here before of course. Within the sacred Circle. But it has never sounded like this. I have always been alone.

Sisters at the Edge of the World, by Ailish Sinclair

But as time passes, Morragh begins to understand the Romans’ intent. She sees death and destruction. the cruel demise of their leader, the Calgach. A purge that could signal the end of her people.

As Morragh and Gaius’ relationship deepens, she seeks a way to bring peace. Surely there is a way to satisfy both sides. Her visions tell a different story, but Morragh sets out to accomplish the impossible task of saving her people.

This is the third novel by Ailish Sinclair that I’ve read. The first was good, the second great. But “Sisters” is amazing, bringing the reader deep into Morragh’s thoughts and psyche. If you are a fan of historical fiction, if you love reading about the early pagan tribes of Great Britain, “Sisters at the Edge of the World” is a must read.

*(Fans of Sinclair’s The Mermaid and the Bear (set in 597) will recognize Cullykhan Bay and its nearby Hanging Stone.)

Feature image source

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